offpitch | 2015-07-17
Toni Freixa interviewed by El País: Our style is the jogo bonito
The candidate defends his footballing philosophy and conciliatory profile and wants to recover La Masia’s value.
Laporta, Rosell, Bartomeu and Freixa were on the same team in 2003, what has happened for you to split in such a way?
We represented a new group which didn’t have any links with the previous generation. And people asked for that change. Later on, jealousy and vanity showed up, things of the human nature. Now, although there has been good proposals in the precandidacies process, people have not been paying much attention because they don’t want a cycle change. That’s why they must choose what kind of profile they want to run the club.
But there had been all kind of trials and indictments, why?
Because the board of directors have to manage with rigor, responsibility and within the club’s statutes. If we hadn’t managed with rigor the trials would be reduced to 90 percent. You can’t rule outside the law. I’m sure if the Neymar signing was done with rigor, none of these would have happened.
You, on the other hand, are the self-proclaimed “conciliation option” but you don’t get along with the other candidates.
I disagree. We won’t spend our summer together but I have a respectful relationship with them and we can sit at at table and talk. The difference is the model of club management because one of them is presidential [hence democratic] and the other takes decisions without consulting the board [dictatorial].
In case you’re president, would you withdraw the responsibility action against Laporta?
I was the only one who pursued and agreement between the two groups [Laporta’s and Rosell’s], and I found the refusal of Laporta and Sala i Martín. Now, I understand we would have to wait for the court decision in order to establish a precedent for the future and to guarantee Barça’s economical independence with responsible and financially sound directors.
Was this event what caused the separation between you and Bartomeu?
I don’t know.
But didn’t you discuss this?
Yes, we had a conversation about it but I was unable to understand what he tried to tell me.
Do you understand the criticism about you staying in the club and now you’re diminishing that same management?
What I’m saying right now, I said it in there. I didn’t leave because of a service calling, because of my will to help from within and to avoid controversy. I had to serve as the barrier for possible attacks to the board. But I didn’t have the experience I have now and you learn from every situation. I believe you can say the things with purpose and respect. I have learned to express with calmness. I feel liberated because now I represent myself. I’ve been through a difficult time and now I’m enjoying a lot.
Do you feel strong?
Yes. I’m surrounded by a great team and that’s why I have always thought “Why not?” We have been the first to trust in our candidacy, we’re confident we’ll win and it’s not a surprise to us we’re starting to be liked by people. We knew we appeal to the socís because of our proposals. Many people now acknowledge us as the best candidate, why can’t we win? But we want to do it our style, with content.
And what is your style?
If we’re talking about style, one candidate is just fouling, the other plays catenaccio and we play the jogo bonito.
What have you learned during your years at the club?
I have learned the president can’t speak badly about anyone because he represents the institution and we must be generous in an institutional level.
What do you have that the other candidates don’t?
I have experience just like Laporta or Bartomeu, a footballing profile that Bartomeu lacks and I’m equidistant from both Rosellism and Laportism. I’m not part of any group. And it’s evident that if I’m not supporting Bartomeu’s candidacy, I’m not his submarine like Laporta said. I guarantee social peace and that makes us a unique proposal.
You always mention your footballing profile.
It’s just that I was in a board which liked to confess that they were ignorant in football. I have been a rare bird. But a board member has to know about many aspects of the club and the football aspect is very important.
But if everything has been done so badly, how is it possible the team won the treble?
Not everything has been done badly. We must congratulate the coach, the players and the former sporting director. But the club is based on signings and La Masia is no longer the heart. We can’t rely on constant investments, in prioritizing scouting before professional trainers with vocation. It’s like when they told us if we lose the elections, we can wait for the next ones. We can wait but Barça can’t because La Masia must have a management aiming for excellence.
Is it economically feasible for a club to have this proposal?
Yes, because if La Masia works so many signings wouldn’t be necessary, you can invest in the club promotion. That way you maximize the brand and increase the income. What can’t happen is for us to depend on signings.
Some English clubs can pay a lot more and many La Masia players end up leaving.
That’s the reason we won’t negotiate with agents of players under 16 years old before they sign their first professional contract. If we manage to change the players mindset from a monetary one to a formation perspective, we will reduce the players leaving. And we wouldn’t have to sign so much.
Well now Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan have joined the club when the board said they wouldn’t make any signing after spending €180 million last summer.
That happens because the sports structure now is the coach asks and the board complies. It’s a model by those who show ignorance. And we don’t like that. We want to be at the front line to take on the responsibilities alongside the technical area.
And what can be done to improve the sections?
We have to apply the football formation model with purposeful coaches and to make sure that the professional teams have players grown in La Masia.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.