offpitch | 2015-06-30
Toni Freixa discusses his social and sporting plan
Toni Freixa, pre-candidate for FC Barcelona’s presidency, presented his sporting and social projects for the club. Freixa referred to La Masia as the cornerstone of the project he wants for Barça if he wins the elections.
On the sporting side, he talked about Laureano Ruiz, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola as the backbone of Barça’s model and recalled that the first team won the Champions League in 2011 with seven players coming from La Masia. Four years later, there were 5 academy players in the first team.
“Our candidacy does not debate this model,” Freixa said, but he stated that “our academy is going through difficult times” and he added that “Barça cannot afford to spend €180 million every summer on new players.”
David Vilajoana, former coach of Europa B, lawyer and head of the sporting area of Freixa’s candidature, presented the main content. He explained that the incorporation of La Masia players into the first team has become sporadic in recent years: “The last one who became a starter was Busquets and he is 27 years old now. We have reverted to the idea of looking outside for players.”
He lamented that “in the early stages of development our teams are not achieving the level of technical, tactical, physical and psychological excellence required” mentioning Barça B’s relegation as an example.
He also added that “our competitors, like Manchester City or Bayern Munich, are spending a lot to build their own ‘Masias’, so we cannot be left behind.” One of the solutions, in his opinion, is “to hire a developmental specialist with vast experience.”
The candidacy said that their objective is “to maintain the club among football’s elite, with La Masia as the backbone and being faithful to a playing model that has given us the most successful era in Barça’s history. We should provide La Masia the tools that guarantee its excellence.”
The Freixa pre-candidacy promises to form a “Wise men committee” and they would like “to count not just on Laureano Ruiz, but also on Johan Cruyff or Pep Guardiola.”
They also want to create a Coaching School inside the club and establish the “Barça seal” through a certified audit company. Freixa wants to change the club’s bylaws so that it would be mandatory to inform the General Assembly about the “management of La Masia.”
For professional football, Freixa proposes that every decision should be made with the agreement of all the people involved in the sporting side: coach, La Masia director, board members and sporting director.
Asked about Éric Abidal, who Joan Laporta said would be his sporting director in case he wins the elections, Toni Freixa said that “Abidal is a very important character in our recent history, because he has been an example for everyone. For us, he is a part of the club’s patrimony, he is a person for whom we also have a place at the club in the event that we win, possibly different than the one Laporta is giving him, but in any case, a position in which we can count on his judgment, image and personal courage.”
Freixa also answered Laporta’s claims that he left the club healthy in 2010: “I’m not the one who is saying that the club was in debt, the audit company said it, and that’s why the Assembly decided to file an action for damages against him and his board. He left the club with a debt of over €400 million and in five years we have reduced that amount to less than €300 million.”
The former board spokesman didn’t want to say whether Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu are an indivisible partnership: “What I can say for sure that Mr. Rosell doesn’t have anything to do with this candidacy. This question should be asked to Bartomeu and Rosell and they should answer it with all honesty.”
Freixa also presented his social program, which has as its objectives “ensuring that the socí fills the Camp Nou,” with discounts of 25% for socís who don’t have season tickets and 50% for socís who are on the waiting list for season tickets and discounts in the catering services for season ticket holders.
He also wants to create a travelling agency for the club which would subsidize travelling for Barça fans and a transport service for fans over 65 years old for games that start at later times.
Freixa also added that he would like to see a greater participation among fans inside and outside the Camp Nou. For this purpose he said that he would like to give more importance to the fan groups in both stands behind the goals “but without moving any of the season tickets”, renouncing the idea of an 'Animation Stand' which was proposed in his day by Sandro Rosell and which has been picked up by other pre-candidates.
Another important aspect of his social project is to amplify the transparency of the distribution of tickets to penyas and to combat re-sales. “All of the money that was spent in other times on private investigators for other things [referring to the spying of employees and executives that happened during Laporta’s presidency] will be spent on investigating this re-sale process and denouncing it to the police and the courts,” Freixa said.
The former board member added that: “I am at Barça’s service. I want to be president. If we win, we will be working for the club responsibly. We will not delegate the management to outside companies like has happened until now.”
About the Qatar sponsorship he was very clear: “I’m astounded that we can only choose Qatar. If I’m president, there will be other options and I won’t choose Qatar. Qatar doesn’t express Barça’s image and style.”
Asked about the rumors surrounding Sergio Ramos he was clear: “The base of our squad has to be homegrown. We should have done everything possible to keep Xavi here.”
Freixa also said that during Rosell and Bartomeu’s presidencies the club “wasn’t institutionally strong” and that “no pre-candidate can say that the treble the team won is his,” in direct reference to one of Bartomeu’s main campaign platforms. But he also added “my relationship with Bartomeu didn’t end badly.”
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