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As a student of the world–that’s my ego-boosting term for “starving artist,” I’ll have you know–I’ve read a lot. Recently I’ve focused my powers of observation on the various corruption allegations in the footballing world. Ricardo Teixeira, Brazil’s FA (CBF) chief, a FIFA Executive Committee member, and the head of Brazil’s World Cup organizing committee, ranks right up there with the most oft accused and so it wasn’t so shocking that last Saturday, October 1, The Economist published an article discussing several of the allegations pending against him. There was nothing new in the article about Mr. Teixeira, especially not if you’ve seen the BBC Panorama’s episode “FIFA’s Dirty Secrets,” but it did contain a few paragraphs that might raise some eyebrows around these parts.
During his campaign to replace Joan Laporta as president of FCB, Sandro Rosell claimed transparency would be so complete as to render the Camp Nou practically see-through. Good luck taking a mid-match bathroom break. Failure to be institutionally transparent aside, The Economist points to personal transparency problems for Sandrusco. The gist of it all, boiled down to a single sound bite, is that Rosell may have been involved in several shady deals with the CBF and Teixeira while a part of Nike and later as the head of the marketing firms Ailanto and Brasil 100% Marketing.
There have not been any charges filed against Rosell, as far as I know, and the accusations remain in that gray area between rumor and fact that characterizes most of the things on the Internet. It would be foolish, however, to dismiss these allegations outright. Rather, investigations should run their course–transparently; in the meantime, we should neither think Rosell guilty nor suspect his other business ventures, personal or with Barça.
However, it strikes me as important to mention Joan Laporta at this stage. The former president of Barça has been accused of getting into financial foreplay with an Uzbek company and using FCB as a way to earn a lot of money for himself on the side. That deal fell through (you can read about it here and here), but the calls for resignation and, later, greater institutional transparency were fierce and loud. There was a vote of no confidence and now accusations of falsifying Barça financial holdings. Court cases are ongoing in that as well.
Whatever we think of Barça the football team, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that tens of millions of euros are involved in everything behind the scenes. The TV rights money, the salaries, the facilities. All of these things create the opportunity for graft and corruption that we’ve seen in other parts of the game. While overzealous attacks on any administration are counterproductive, it behooves the common fan and especially the socis to be mindful of those who would bandy about the term “transparency” but refuse to answer questions relating to their prior business deals or current projects.
If Laporta was a loose cannon on the field of financial fire, we should be wary of his first Vice President and that VP’s past dealings with the (allegedly) shadier elements of the game. That, again, doesn’t mean we should attack Rosell, but it does mean we should demand answers to questions concerning the Qatar Foundation deal and the general state of finances at FCB. They aren’t suspicions founded on anything; in fact, they’re not suspicions at all, they’re just questions that, as a soci, I feel entitled to be able to ask and get answered honestly and with documentation.
That’s not too much to ask, is it?
And here’s something for the whole family:
Yup, it’s a podcast with me!