offpitch | 2015-06-30
Toni Freixa reveals more of his election plans
Sabem a què juguem (“We know what we’re playing at”) is the slogan of Toni Freixa’s pre-candidature for FC Barcelona’s summer elections. Surrounded by his team of 13 people, the former FC Barcelona spokesperson and secretary of the board during Rosell and Bartomeu’s presidencies has made his intentions clear: “We have had a fantastic season, but at an administrative level, it was very agitated and as a board, we have not reached the level of excellence required at the best club in the world. There was a lack of rigor and responsibility; the socís were not always treated as they deserved to be.”
He then added: “the board who should be voted in these elections, should be the one that best combines the experience and knowledge of the club as an institution with the best sporting proposal and who does all of this with the leadership, steadiness, responsibility and rigor required.”
Freixa listed the things that he considers were done wrong during the Rosell – Bartomeu presidencies: “The sporting future is threatened by not relying on the formative model built in La Masia; the managements has derived into chaos; the club is run like a business, not like a club; the socís aren’t treated like they deserve; the assets of the club are not being used right; there’s a lack of leadership.”
About the infamous FIFA sanction for signing underage players from foreign countries, his response was: “With the program that we are now presenting, that would have never happened. This shows that the model of management was irresponsible because the board was never made aware of FIFA’s warnings when they arose, we just knew of the ban when it was in place.”
He also said that the board is responsible for every decision the club makes: “The ‘Neymar Case’ is another example of what can happen when you delegate. As am member of that board, I am also responsible for everything that happened, the good and the bad….”
He stated that he will work to end the trials the club is involved in and that he proposed a deal so that the trial against Laporta and his board members would be stopped. About the contract with Qatar Airways, he said that “we’ll work, as we are doing now, to find another sponsor, because we think that the deal with Qatar has to end.”
Asked why he didn’t resign when he believed that the board wasn’t working right, he replied, “You resign when there’s a grave or irreversible reason. I said that we didn’t reach the level of excellence required, but overall, the 5 year term has been satisfactory. A resignation would have caused a fire in the club. You never abandon Barça. My loyalty to the club is unquestionable.”
He also explained that La Masia is not being used as it should, giving as an example the fact that the last academy graduate to become a starter has been Busquets. Freixa declares himself a disciple of Laureano Ruiz and a follower of the ideas of Cruyff and Guardiola. Furthermore, he was pleased that Luis Enrique renewed his contract and he congratulated himself for the sporting success, insisting, “If Bartomeu won the treble then so did I.”
Freixa also said “We are going to try to win with a complete program, not with election tricks.”
He then presented his 11 ideas to improve the club:
1. We play to protect the excellence of La Masia. The sporting future of the club passes through La Masia, the cornerstone of our management.
2. We play to manage in a sensible and responsible way. The board has to be involved in the management of the club.
3. We play to raise the role of the socí. They are the main asset and we want to improve the attention they currently receive.
4. We play to firmly defend the club. It must provide mechanisms for managing institutional leadership.
5. We play to end the prosecution of the club.
6. We play to convert Barça into the world's leading brand.
7. We play to create the best atmosphere. The players deserve the club to make every effort to ensure the noise of the crowd is heard.
8. We play to strengthen all sections [of the club] and to fill the Palau [FC Barcelona’s basketball arena]. Our different sections are an emblem that makes us unique in the world.
9. We play to ensure an acceptable Espai Barça [Camp Nou and its surroundings]. The stadium, the Palau and the surrounding areas require a profound process of renewal and improvement.
10. We play to open the foundation to the socís. We will pursue programs of attention to socís without neglecting other actions that will make [FC Barcelona] universal.
11. We play to regenerate the club from within. Our experience and knowledge allows us to continue making the club the best in the world.
In an interview to the radio show ‘Què t’hi jugues!’ on Cadena SER, Freixa said that “Xavi’s exit could have been avoided by acting with foresight, decision and conviction before his first trip to Qatar in which he agreed to the deal. After that, it was too late.”
He also spoke about Dani Alves’s renewal: “The club acted late on that too. He’s the best right back in the world and the best for Barça. After 7 years of great performances, you can’t offer him a new deal only in April when his contract ends in June. I understood him perfectly in that presser. I tried to calm him down and I made sure my support reached him.”
Freixa explained that “I’m running with the experience I have acquired since 2003, under 3 different presidents. I feel prepared to run the club for the next 6 years. I’m not running because Bartomeu did something wrong, although I’ll never know why he pushed me out, but because I know what Barça needs.”
Among his objectives is “getting La Masia to the level of excellence of the first team because that is the club’s future. We’re speaking more about Pogba than about Barça B.” He also asked for a tribute for Puyol, indicating “it’s incredible that nothing has been done so far.” He was also surprised by the rumored sale of Deulofeu “because we never decided to sell him as a board, I suppose the Managing Commission decided this. I would have liked it if he had exploited the possibility to triumph at Barça to the maximum.”
Freixa admitted that “The Sporting Commission was one of my proposals to help Zubizarreta make decisions because he was very alone and that contributed to the fact that it took him three years to sign a center back. But I didn’t suggest Braida’s name.”
As for the never-ending debate regarding best player in the world, he stated: “the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo because Messi is not from this world. The board must ensure that the performance of the players is optimum and for that we have to listen to the players. If at any point Messi isn’t happy, you have to sit down and talk to him and with people with knowledge from the world of football.”
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