Politics is an ugly business. It’s a money-laced endeavor, wherever it appears, from co-op boards to legislative houses. It is also a place where things are easily painted as good vs evil, love it or leave it, no middle ground, no such thing as nuance. It is in this realm that we find Barça firmly entrenched during the Sandro Rosell era. I’ve written about it in the past, suggesting that there is much more to the behind-the-scenes machinations than simply running a football club. I get the sense, however, that this puts me in the “anti-Rosell” camp and by default also in the “pro-Laporta” camp.
I hardly ever think gleefully about Laporta. One of my clearest memories of him is the disdain with which he treated fans while visiting New York City with the team in the summer of 2008. The team never signed autographs and Laporta himself seemed to be happier joking with staff members and completely ignoring the fans who had come out for a charity match session (and waited over 2 hours longer than expected to get in). At the friendly the team played at the Meadowlands stadium in East Rutherford a couple of days later, Laporta, surrounded by a veritable goon squad of bodyguards, refused to acknowledge people in the stadium, blowing by everyone in a huff just after the game ended, too busy to pause for pictures, too purposefully above it all. Or at least so it seemed to this fan, who was at both events.
For what it’s worth, I was on the fence about the vote of no confidence that summer–something that I knew must have been weighing on Laporta’s mind at the time, but which should have galvanized him into better public relations, not worse–and happened to be traveling to Spain in July, right as the vote was to take place. In the end, I was not forced to decide one way or the other because travel plans ended with me leaving Barcelona on July 5, just a day before the vote took place at the Camp Nou. Laporta survived, but not without that squeaky bum sound filling the tabloids for a while.
Nuance, however, as I said, rarely has its day in court, and it seems that this is all the more true of the Rosell administration. Whatever Laporta’s personal foibles, whatever his tendency toward autocracy, whatever his inability to keep his gob shut for more than half a second (I called it macromicroblabbermouthia, among other things, in this ancient post)–and certainly there was plenty to be disgusted with and plenty to be annoyed with–Joan Laporta never, to my knowledge, waged personal war using the club’s museum (he waged personal war in other ways, with company funds, it would appear).
What I mean about the museum comes from this, written by NZM in an email:
We were at the museum on the weekend and I confirmed the almost complete lack of Laporta presence in the museum. He appears in 2 little videos on 8” screens as part of the club’s humanitarian work….The 6 cup season – 2008/09 is lumped into a category called “The Best Years in Our History” from 2008 – 2012. Rosell’s pic is there, but not Laporta’s.
It is here that the nuance has to play a part. What Rosell is doing–and make no mistake, as the president of Barça, Rosell is responsible–is reprehensible, but saying that, criticizing the sitting president, is not the same as praising the prior president. Rosell is, I think, looking to draw a line in the sand that demarcates Good vs Evil, Rosell vs Laporta. It is a multi-party system thrown into disarray and quickly devolving into a two-party system of polar factions.
The debate is not about Laporta’s era having been good or bad, but rather Rosell’s attempt to erase it from the annals of Barça lore is repugnant. Granted, as Blitzen wrote in a subsequent email on the subject, “There is a write-up on [Laporta’s] presidency on the official website, available to anyone,” but there is a difference between receiving a mandate to run a club and going that extra mile to obliterate the connections between the club’s crowning achievement and the president primarily responsible for it.
In the end, however, it’s not about erasing Laporta so much as erecting a monument to Rosell. With Pep gone, it is now the Rosell era, but the museum, according to NZM’s report above, is being used to suggest that Rosell was the mastermind of every good year since 2008. That is both wrong and reprehensible behavior. Rosell should be ashamed of himself, much as Laporta should be ashamed of himself for the spies and over-the-top expense accounts. There are at least two sides to every story, but often there are even more and in this case, it shouldn’t matter whether Laporta’s years were good or bad: they should be presented as they were. They cannot be whitewashed away with some tricky accounting or media relations campaign.
It is our duty as socis, as fans, as those who simply love the game, to raise these issues. I am not anti Rosell, I am not pro Laporta. I am pro truth. I am pro inclusion. I am pro transparency. I am anti political gimmicks. I am anti racism and xenophobia. I am pro personal responsibility and anti invasion of privacy. I am against working with companies or nations that have severe human rights issues. I am for supporting charity and fighting for those who have no voices. If these stances hurt my club’s bottom line, I am fine with that. If they hurt or bolster Sandro Rosell’s legacy, I am fine with that. But I will not sit and watch wordlessly as anyone, regardless of their connections, history, or personal merit destroys the integrity of the club I love.
Politics is an ugly business, but if we don’t keep watch, who will?