FC Barcelona, fresh off winning a second treble – a feat no other club in world football has ever accomplished – are having elections this summer. Here’s why you shouldn’t pay attention to any of it.
If you thought Barcelona was a soap opera last winter, what with Messi reportedly threatening to leave, Andoni Zubizaretta getting sacked and acting president Jose Maria Bartomeu calling for elections a year earlier than necessary, then you’re in for a rude awakening. This summer is the real doozy.
There are quite a few candidates in the running, but for the most part, I’m going to talk about Bartomeu and former president Joan Laporta.
Bartomeu is the incumbent, having risen to power last November when former president Sandro Rosell resigned over the Neymar contract fiasco. This will be the first time he runs for that office, and he’ll most likely be running on the success of last season. Oh, and that if he is reelected, he has assurances from Paul Pogba that the midfielder will join. Or Koke. Or, no, Reus. Heck, maybe all three.
Transfer ban, you say? What transfer ban? Ain’t no transfer ban these guys have ever heard about.
Joan Laporta, the former president and the guy who appointed Pep Guardiola, will most likely be running on the premise of “restoring old glories,” which if you ask me, are kinda moot at this point since BARCELONA JUST WON A DAMN TREBLE moving away from the old system.
He’s already trying to rekindle old emotions, appointing former Barcelona left back Eric Abidal – a person with no front office experience whatsoever – as his director of football. Also of note is club legend Johan Cruyff’s absence from voting proceedings this time around, since Laporta was the man who brought him back the first time (when, Laporta will no doubt tell you, Barcelona won everything under the sun).
Of course Laporta won’t only run on that – he probably has assurances from other players that they will join Barcelona if he were to be elected (some of these players may even be the same ones Bartomeu is targeting).
But in all honesty, if you’re a fan of FC Barcelona in its current iteration – with Messi, Neymar, Suárez and company – then the results of this election won’t matter much. Where the results will make a difference is in the lower reaches of the football program (remember La Masia?) and in other sports.
Bartomeu’s grand plan is to expand the Camp Nou – and maybe sell its naming rights. That project requires money, money that would have probably been used to supplement other areas of FC Barcelona.
Laporta, meanwhile, will probably leverage the strength of the first team, using the treble and all the winning that the first team did last season, to supplement other areas in the club. That could include, say, a new shirt sponsorship deal, which would be a step towards ending the club’s controversial relationship with Qatar.
I should point out that there are many other candidates running for this position. One of them, Agusti Benedito, claims that he has had talks with Paul Pogba and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli. Another candidate, Jordi Majó, has claimed that Sergio Ramos was offered as a way to win the elections, but that he “won’t play that game.” (This could all be because of the defender’s contract dispute with Real Madrid. The Ramos stuff is a saga all its own.)
You will be hearing a lot of things from now until July 18, when the elections will, at long last, take place. Whether any of it matters in the long run is another story altogether.