More Than A Slogan: Eric Abidal and FC Barcelona

“Abidal’s new contract has been written and as soon as he plays his first game, we’ll put pen to paper.” – Barcelona vice president Josep María Bartomeu, 12 December 2012

At the time, Eric Abidal accepted his departure with the grace that characterised his behaviour at Barcelona. He could have raged then about broken promises, about the club’s failure to communicate with him over a period of at least 3 months. He could have said many things, but he didn’t.

Instead, this is what he said:

“I didn’t take a decision because when your contract isn’t renewed, you don’t have a choice,” Abidal said. “The club’s decision is difficult to accept because part of my battle was for my family but also for the club. I would have liked to have finished my career or had another year here at Barcelona. I respect the choice of the club, the staff and the board. I leave with six years of happiness, titles and good friends.”

To many, the image of Abidal raising the Champions League trophy at Wembley was the pinnacle of the Guardiola era. Maybe the pinnacle of modern Barca. It was perfect – the club’s triumph interwoven with a personal triumph that touched so many. We cried and cheered for him. His struggle was our source of strength, as the slogan went.

When Barca subsequently renewed his contract in January 2012, it was a fantastic gesture of faith, a recognition of the role he had already played in making the best Barca ever possible, and an acknowledgement that he was important to the future of the team.

So what changed a year later, beside the glaring fact that Abidal was now, by the club’s own admission, healthy and cleared to play, having made a Herculean effort to recover from a liver transplant?

No explanation has ever been offered for Barca’s decision, as an institution, to go back on its word and decline to offer Abidal a new contract. Or, depending on how much of a fib Bartomeu was telling, to withdraw any standing offer. This in itself was insult enough – by dodging the question, the club implied that maybe Abidal wasn’t quite as fit as they’d made out when he made his emotional comeback months earlier, and made it harder for him to find a new club.

I doubt we’ll ever find out the truth behind the decision to let Abidal go unless someone involved has a decisive break with the current regime. And the fans aren’t the only ones wondering. Some of the players are, too.

The reality is that the decision was and is unjustifiable, even taking the most cold-eyed, pragmatic view. Barca needed and still need a player like Abidal. They scoured the transfer market without finding anyone they could buy to fill that gap this summer. We don’t know if the club doctors genuinely thought he couldn’t play on, but the club certainly never said so and subsequent events make it seem unlikely.

If the club had thought better of its earlier stated decision and wanted to mitigate the risk of offering a multi-million contract to a player with potential health problems, it could have set up a pay-as-you-play deal. Even if they had cold feet about the supposed contract that was ready to sign as soon as Abidal played a game, they could have sat down with him and at least tried to work something out. That would have been prudent and humane, and in line with Barca’s previous treatment of him. Instead, the club ducked all attempts by Abidal and his agent to set up a meeting for 3 months, leaving him in limbo until the end of May, when he was told that despite the club’s public promises to the contrary, his contract would not be renewed.

The club’s behaviour demonstrated a lack of basic competence, if not actual bad faith, and continued a troubling trend.

“For Barcelona to renew with Abidal when they knew he would need a liver transplant shows the greatness of this club.” – Pep Guardiola, March 2012

I cried when Abidal raised the cup. I cried again that terrible day of the press conference as I read about what had happened: the tears of Abidal and the other players, the disturbing, buck-passing performances by Rosell and Zubizarreta, and the equally disturbing failure by any members of the press to ask the obvious questions. This time, my tears were an expression of anger.

Something happened that day as Abidal dried his eyes and Rosell grinned for the press. Something that’s very difficult to overcome – a feeling that we as a club had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Barca’s image took a hit when we let Abidal go, all the more so because of the way his story had been woven into our club’s recent history of glittering success. Because, and here comes that hated word, Barca’s support of him had become part of our ‘brand’. We didn’t just win. We played well, we won, and Abidal raised the cup. That’s impeccable. Nobody could dent that. Nobody else, anyway.

Eras don’t end with defeats. Defeat happens to everyone. Eras end when we become something other than ourselves.

“The recovery of our manager, Tito Vilanova, and the return of Abidal to active football have provoked emotions that are as intense as or even more intense than anything any title can bring. These have been triumphs of life, victories that reward the struggles of human beings that reach beyond the boundaries of sport”. – Sandro Rosell, April 2013

This is Barca. This is what we do now. We make real people into symbols of mes que un club, to make us look and feel good. We make their stories of struggle and triumph into clip reels set to stirring music, and we use their adversity to make our triumph seem greater.

That’s fine.

(Even though it seems a bit much for the club to take credit for supporting Abidal through his long recovery now that we know the club didn’t bear the financial burden. His last contract had a clause that allowed the club to terminate if he was out for longer than 6 months. He and the club agreed to suspend his contract instead, and he wasn’t paid by Barca for the 12/13 season until his comeback. But I digress. That’s not the big problem here.)

What’s not so palatable is discarding the real people after the fact. The club doesn’t get to dump the person and keep the reflected glory. His struggle is not ours to take strength from, because we responded to it with bad faith. We don’t get to talk about how special we are for supporting Abidal through his recovery when the club discarded him after he worked so hard to return.

We don’t even get to look at Abidal raising Big Ears and just feel good about it. Not anymore. Because we know what happened after.

Eric Abidal should still be playing for Barcelona. That he isn’t – and we still don’t know why – doesn’t make us just another football club. That wouldn’t hurt.

Every time Abidal plays for Monaco, every time he goes 90 minutes for France, it’s a personal triumph for him. It’s also a painful reminder for us.

We’re worse because we claim to be better. We’re hypocrites.




[Author’s note:

I love this team. That’s never changed, and it’s probably never going to. Fundamentally, I derive more happiness from Barca than frustration and anger, and that’s as it should be. Anyone who hasn’t enjoyed being a Barca fan this past decade is probably doing it wrong.

At the same time, I have many, many issues with what Sandro Rosell is making this club into. None of these very serious issues have cut me to the core quite as deeply as what happened with Abidal. Hence this post.]

By Linda

20-something Chinese Kiwi Barrister. Enjoys short walks on the beach, Argentinian players and Pep Guardiola. @blackwhitengrey for hot takes on all three.


  1. hear hear.

    easily the biggest stain on this current administration, done in a characteristically mealy-mouthed and irresponsible way.

    Abidal staying made great footballing sense, great squad sense, and great moral sense. the only thing it didn’t make was great business sense, but that’s apparently the only thing Rosell and his executive minions care about. a shameful episode.

    1. Abidal leaving barca was the peak of this administration’s incompetence. I believe if Abidal was given a 6 month contract till January to assess his ability, he will have stayed. I think some blame shld still go to Tito- for lack of foresight. Now we are short at the back, no center back signing and Abidal is doing absolutely well at Monaco.

  2. Since it’s a break and if this article is not enough, check out Sid Lowe’s latest piece 🙂

  3. Nice article Linda! I agree with every word.

    I wonder if Laporta is going to use this issue when campaigning against Ro$ell. Part of me wants Sandro to get his just desserts over his handling of this affair, but the thought of Abi as a political football makes me uneasy.

  4. Good read, But unbalanced in my opinion, The article tries to paint an ‘evil’ picture on the club side, In no way i’m saying that the club is relieved from responsibility, But it’s wiser to avoid simplifying the complex situation of abidal into a false dichotomy of good and evil.

    We can try to dwell deep into what happened, But since we’re in the dark about the details, All we’re left with is some very subjective views and guesses, Yet there are a few basic points we can all agree upon…

    Argument for the club:
    The club shouldn’t be forced to keep a player, and has the right to let him go weather it’s for health or sporting reasons, And i’m inclined more toward the latter when it comes to abidal, He returned to group practice months before the announcement of his departure, A time adequate enough for the coaching staff to decide weather he’s still a viable member of the team and deserves to stay, Specially with the growing reports that tito was looking for a smaller squad for next season, And if the decision to let him go was mainly due to health reasons, Then there isn’t much to say.

    Argument against the club:
    1- The contract promise: Oh god, What a screw up, Face palm worthy, Makes you wonder what was going throw Bartomeu head when he opened his mouth, The mind boggeling thing is how did he predict and able to judge that abidal will be able return to the same level he was before for him to promise a renewal??, Yet i’m willing to treat this as an individual **** up, Can’t say the same thing for the next one.

    2- Lack of transparency: Not toward us, Honestly they don’t have to share the details to the public, But the clear lack of transparency to the player himself!, Evident by multiple statements abidal threw in the last few months, Which shows that he’s as much in dark about the whole thing as we are, And that is truly UNJUSTIFIABLE, Yes the club may have their own reasons to letting him go as i said above, Yet it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve an explanation, Specially when it comes to a person that went through as much as abidal did, Nothing would’ve prevented our board to sit down with him and explain themselves to him.

    1. Is it possible the club didnt know or hadnt made up its mind till the last minute ?

      Still not seeing the problem with the club here. His salary was not inconsiderable, he was getting on in years, he had recovered twice from a life threatening disease and his contract was at an end. Yes, it would have been nice to offer some charity but if we’re being rational about it the club will have sat down, aware of the bad publicity which would follow if they didnt renew, and still decided not to. They must have had a reason.

      And can we can the story about the club not paying him what he was due ?

      That he’s not speaking well of the club is up to him but doesn’t mean he’s right. We’ll see at the end of the season if he’s played a full one and played well. If so, we probably made a mistake given the CB situation but till then I’m not gonna blame the club.

    2. Agree, The easy way out for the board was just to renew and appear as the ‘good’ guys, But the fact they chose not to, Knowing the inevitable backlash toward them, Shows that it must have been a difficult decision.
      I never criticized the club for the decision itself, Seems unreasonable for us to decide which would’ve been the proper decision when the club compared to us, Has the better insight to the whole thing .

    3. Every story will have two sides, even the most horrific events in world had them. But there is no denial that the club’s side of story remains in very shaky ground. Especially with their reluctance to explain it. Also with their utter incompetence to find a replacement once they let him go. Also if it’s a decision made by the medical team, that guy needs to go. I mean he already have played more minutes than any of our defenders!

    4. “Every story will have two sides, even the most horrific events in world had them.”

      Opening line like this always discards the arguments put above.

      What Rami said was bang on. Let’s appreciate the fact that Rosell has guts to take tough decisions without giving consideration to bad press. Board made a decision, in consultation with coach / medical team and decided that he is not fit to play for Barca. Decision right or wrong is every person’s own view. And ofcourse time will tell whether decision was prudent or not.

      But this is highly irresponsible (for other points above) to portray that board has an agenda to be menacing. Let’s face the facts –

      1) Rosell is shrewed and he wants to get re-elected
      2) Bad publicity brought by not renewing Abidal will hurt his position. Why would he risk his position, if not for his belief that this is good for Barca. Again outcome of decision can be questioned but to portray him as menacing is not correct.

      I have always considered Rosell more gutsy than fan-favorite Laporta. He bring some good concepts like fiscal balance. But his lack of transparency will always remain as question mark on his administration.

      PS: I am right now more angry with Abidal then Rosell. The way he keep going on about barca renewal is not classy. He should get on with Monaco, Barca should get on without him.

  5. As baffling as the decision was three month ago, the fact that he is back in the France NT while we did not sign a CB takes this to a whole new level of absurdity. He is good enough to play for one of the top ten NTs in the world, yet he is not good enough for us compared to the alternative, which is Bartra and other La Masia kids with no experience at all???

    And this is without even considering the massive PR hit the club took compared to the PR gains it would have made if it just spent the not so large sum of money necessary to keep him.

    At this point one has to seriously start considering the “this is a political decision” hypothesis, however, I still can’t quite figure out how they thought the negatives would not outweigh whatever positives in their political battles they would gain from that.

  6. Either people around here have gotten to be solely sentimental or I am missing something. Everybody is condemning the club and painting abidal as a saint but I don’t buy it and it starts pissing me off frankly.

    First of all FC Barcelona is NOT about individuals. It is not about Rosell, not about the best player of all time Messi or even Abidal.So before you start picturing the club as hypocrites just using a motto I suggest you double think the above.

    Moving on, what you say makes no sense.
    Club has the perfect defender in Abi since forever ,needs that type of player desperately to solidify the defense, covers LB CB position, is the perfect person for PR and marketing purposes, keeps him in contract during his recovery yet they decide to let him go on a whim rather than the reason(sporting reasons) they gave when this went public.
    Even if the board had a personal vendetta against him they would still keep him in the squad to make them look good since they are that kind of devils , no?

    Your fondness of the player distorts the objective view you should consider when analyzing the situation. Abidal did not leave in peace like you imply. He is mentioning all kind of things in the press week in week out even after joining Monaco. He also left because he wanted to play regularly and the club and coaching staff could not guarantee that.
    Staying clear of emotions, a club should never guarantee playing time to 34 years old player who spent more than his last 1,5 years on the sideline. Even alba may face the bench often if adriano manages to stay off the injury list.

    1. There was no such thing as the club not guaranteeing him playing time and then him leaving as a result. The club did not offer him a contract at all even though he wanted to stay and never asked for guaranteed playing time. He was kicked out.

    2. Wasn’t this more about how much they would have to pay him because he’d spent a bunch of years in Spain and now the tax rate would shoot up? Maybe it was a purely fiscal decision. Would want to reiterate the caveat that no matter how much we hate Rosell, he’s not going to shoot himself in the foot by making such a horrible PR faux pas without some reasoning behind it.

      Still doesn’t excuse the lack of communication though. And I still maintain that he should have been assessed during matches in preseason. Terrible business all around.

    3. Let’s say they had to spend 5 million on his next contract – I doubt it would have been much more than that. Let’s say it it was 10. Is the PR disaster worth less than that? Especially given the kind of money we have simply thrown away in recent years. Plus we would have had a back up CB. It simply does not compute for me.

    4. No G60, sentimental people like you are making it PR disaster….and how long would you put this PR thing over fiscal prudence? At what amount Fiscal prudence will be above PR diaster?

  7. Maybe the club let Abi go from an emotional point of view. I mean the uncertainty of his health and how sick he’d become was too much for the players and had affected some of the players and how they played and if he were to get sick again it’d just be too much for them. The emotional toil it must have took on his team mates must not be understated. Thank god he recovered. I don’t know Tito or Abi personally but, their ill health affected me when I heard about their health problems and relapses. So can imagine how the players felt day to day having close members in of a team as sick as they were.

    It’s probably my way of thinking but I think they were also thinking of the psyche of the team, or maybe not. Granted the fact he is a foreigner too compared to the Catalan Puyi whom i don’t think will play as many games as Abi will this season.

  8. Brilliant Piece

    From the beginning it was clear the whole Abidal episode was a PR exercise from our side. His come back and lifting the Cup at Wembley will remain one of the most defining moments of Barca’s Golden era. It has all to do with the player’s heart and our captain’s spirit.

  9. Not sure if anyone has posted this article yet. Sorry if so. It’s fictional but it’s a good laugh and not far off the mark.

    As for the Abidal situation it’s best if we all just get over it and move on. He’s not coming back. We’ve got to get on with our present situation and deal with it. It’s like breaking up with a past lover. Move on. Nothing to see here.

  10. The desicion was not to renew with Abidal as a player. He was not kicked out. He had an offer for a job.
    From the staff’s view, the desicion was understandable. The LB position was well covered and for CB they wanted someone else to be signed. A player with better prospect.
    As Tito said at the presser “I hope, Abidal proofs me wrong”
    If he did it, all the better for Abidal!

  11. Zidane states the obvious. Still, I’m surprised he said so considering he’s Really Mad’s assistant coach.

    Considering the transfer amount I’m very confident this one will be remembered as one of the biggest transfer busts of all time. Bale will always be compared to Cristina and that’s an examination he’s never going to approach, let alone win.

    1. We all write our own legend. People should give Bale a chance. He is not responsitble for the transfer fee.

      This is a player who only a few years ago was being benched by assou-ekotto(sp?) at spurs. Look at the transformation.

      Im not saying the price is just however I tip my hat to the young man for the tremendous mental strength hes had to show to arrive where he is now.

      There are varying degrees of talent in world football and not everyone is blessed with a pillow-like first touch and x-ray vision but it just goes to show that if you put your head down and work hard you can go places.

      Being of youthful age myself, I personally find his story very inspiring.
      I wouldnt mind seeing him triumph as long as its not against us.

  12. Personally, I prefer to wait till the end of the season to judge if the club screwed up. I’m not wishing any harm on Abidal, of course. I just think that the club are sitting on details we are not aware of, maybe.

    1. May be! That’s the best way to put it from the club’s perspective. But there is no info about it or there is no leaked press. So I doubt.

      Now Abidal may break in coming weeks, but then Puyol also could and could be out for the whole season. The question the management needed to answer was whether he could regain fitness to play at the top level. I think Abidal has already answered that.

      The board could still wait every week hoping him to break down. But he proved that he could regain his fitness and form and play regular minutes. That was the only question!

  13. OT: I’m not aware if BFB runs its own fantasy league. If not, I have taken the initiative to start a fantasy league called ‘BFB League’ on UEFA for the upcoming Champions League season. For those interested, please head over to UEFA’s official website, and enter the following code to join the league: 1564314-489570. Hope to see some of you members there!

    For some reason, UEFA doesn’t give me a direct link that I can paste here.

  14. My views on Abidal have been made clear already, but I can add to them in the hindsight of 20/20:

    — It was a stupid, short-sighted decision by the board that was purely financial. We don’t know the ins and outs of Abidal’s contract demands, or what Monaco is paying him. Would he have taken less to stay with Barça? We don’t know that, either.

    But retrospect is a nasty game because if you lose, you lose badly. The club said that Abidal wasn’t capable of playing, and that it was a professional decision. Abidal signed with Monaco, has returned to Les Bleus and is, in effect, saying “You were wrong,” 90 minutes at a time in match after match.

    Meanwhile, Carles Puyol blew his knee out and had surgery. He has a new contract, and the club is waiting patiently for his return, which has been delayed and is now on schedule for the end of September. Abidal would have played four or five matches for the club by now. Puyol has played exactly zero.

    Are the two situations similar? Yes and no. Cancer is very different than a blown-up knee on the medical charts. On the pitch, both are subject to lapses, delays and complexities related to recovery, both could return at an inopportune time to bite the team in the butt. Both involve losing a player to a dire injury, even if one is a disease. Both can also leave a player under contract, but unable to compete for the club. Both are a huge risk. Just as doctors say a knee is fine, but a wrong cut makes a liar out of them, a renegade cell can make someone in remission become a cancer patient again.

    Same, yet different. Because cancer isn’t a busted knee in hearts and minds.

    Should Abidal have been given the same patience as Puyol? Depends on so much, including salary and playing time demands. I find it difficult to believe that Abidal would not have taken shiny trinkets and a handshake to continue playing for the club that he loves.

    It’s worth looking up the situation of Pete Mickael, a player for Regal Barça. I can post a link to an image that looks very familiar, for those who recall the Abidal presser:

    Same as with Abidal, in that there was a dispute between the player’s doctors and and the club’s doctors on the state of an injury. The club said he couldn’t play, and cut him loose. Weepy presser, etc, etc. We’ll see what happens with Mickael.

    What I know is that in hindsight, Abidal deserved a shot. I thought he did initially, as well. I can also understand the club not wanting to GIVE him a shot, for all the reasons enumerated by people above. I don’t think the club is evil for not giving him a shot. I think it is stupid and short-sighted, as well as risk averse. But that would describe many a football club.

    But when we go shopping for a CB in January, the market and competitive conditions will make one expensive. But we had one. He knew our system, knew it well and was more than capable of playing in that system. And he wouldn’t have been anywhere near as expensive as any options that we might be considering in January. It’s also worth noting that he would have, as it turns out, been an excellent stopgap to next summer’s transfer season, when desired targets are one year less expensive, if they are under contract to a current team.

    As I said, retrospect is a nasty game.

    1. Btw neither 34 year old Abidal nor 35 year old Puyol change the fact that we are short of a new CB for the longterm ,in any case.

      Abidal deserved a shot at continuing the job he loves, playing as much as he wanted. Monaco is not FC Barcelona, so even if he plays 90 minutes for now
      -and that’s too early to judge as well ,should wait for end of season- ,
      playing at our club is infinitely more demanding to compare .

      People are really eager to jump at the board but the decision to let Abidal go surely was not lighthearted, especially considering that it just was a horrible PR move ,the board knew that and they are all about PR frankly.

      Let’s also not forget that Tito has a HUGE say in that, and you can’t say he did not apreciate Abidal or the delicate situation he had just been through.

    2. But then we didn’t want him to play all the time. With him Mascherano, Pique, Bartra, Puyol we could have rotated constantly. At this moment Pique and Masc is playing continuously and will be like that for some time.

    3. I just had a thought… and it was pretty much after seeing the post chemo picture of Tito.on twitter (can’t link because I’m on my phone and don’t know how). Maybe Tito, who has more reason than we to know what cancer can do to a man, couldn’t fathom Abi being able to return full strength. I’m not saying he’s right, but maybe that’s part of Titos reason for doubting Abi’s ability to return.
      That being said, I will always be angry at the decision not to give Abi a real chance… just not at Tito.. because I have never, and hope never to have to walk a mile in his particular shoes.

    1. Smart changes from martino, Liked them,, But now we’re even more dependent on our CBs, Who we already have a short supply of…..No wonder he used pique and mascherano in every single game.

    2. Thanks Jafri; however, I basically refute Tata bringing any of that back as a ‘change’ – that’s the way Barca have been playing for a long, long time.

      I WILL however Credit Tata to bringing back the Pressing game, which is critical for ball retention and recycling. It also minimises the exposure of defenders have, being the weakest part of our team by a long, long distance.


  15. When you have a board that puts misplaced priorities like profits and individual legacy before doing whats necessary, shit like this (releasing Abidal) will continue to happen. You can bet on it.

    1. Individual legacy, as you put it, only comes with the team’s success. Anyone suggesting that Abidal was let go for anything other than sound financial or more likely medical reasons, needs to offer a reason why the board and Tito would deliberately go down a poor publicity route. I’ve heard nothing convincing so far far and because he’s French is stretching things a bit far, imo.

    2. No this legacy comes with showing record profits. every year. new stadiums ad revenue streams. even at the cost of sporting needs. I don’t want to get into this cos this Abidal deal has bullshit written all over it.

  16. Per the Abidal Snag, I believe the Board’s decision was downright financial, without no common sense. He was a soldier willing to lay his life for the club, but the Board don’t like such soldiers and so, ducked him away.

    As Kevin had pointed, I see no Sporting difference between Abi’s situation and Puyi’s… but maybe, there is after all — Puyi is Catalan, and Abi is French.

    I still can’t understand the Board’s ratio for ducking Abi away, just as I still can’t understand the Board’s ratio for not getting a CB.

    In the flipside, we must not forget that Tito was involved in the decision, he wanted some clearing for T. Silva’s arrival. Maybe, he felt Abi couldn’t get-back to 100% having, himself, been under such health crucible. Maybe, he wanted Abi — per his health — to go get some football elsewhere, where a steep work-rate would be less demanded, as against FCB’s, et c, et c. Besides, the Board might not be so dumb as to taking decisions without no Sporting raison, non?
    Well, we don’t know. We can’t batten on that. Maybe, after this season, we could.

    And, as I always say;

    C’est la vie.

  17. Personally, Abi has been my favourite defender, along with Puyol. Even though I more than dislike this board, I think it was a hard decision to let go of Abi. Bad PR move? Obviously.

    But, given the physical demands that it takes to play for a Barça back-line (look at our warrior Puyol, it takes its toll), would it be wise to let someone who just recovered from a mortal disease and expose him to that pressure? I’m no doctor, maybe i’m wrong and Abi is 100% recovered. But I surely wouldn’t take that risk. Because if anything happens to him on the pitch, THAT would be PR disaster.

    I especially relate to Abi’s situation because I have a close friend who is suffering from liver disease too and there’s no compatible donor till now. He’s in the last stages now and it’s a real heartache to see him in so much pain. Let’s not even talk about his parents. So, I think Abi is really lucky he is well again thanks to his cousin. He is entirely entitled to fulfill his dream of retiring after a season or two after fighting death! But my take on this? He should be with his family now… That’s, of course, only my opinion!

  18. Whether you agree with the decision regarding Abidal or not (and I don’t), there’s no denying that there is a great deal of hypocrisy going on. This quote from the article says it all, “We don’t get to talk about how special we are for supporting Abidal through his recovery when the club discarded him after he worked so hard to return.”

    If you don’t care to talk about that, and only want sporting decisions made by the club that’s fine. But the community on this site has feted the previous decisions by the club to support Abidal, so it’s only natural that we should be equally disappointed by his subsequent treatment.

    Another disturbing trend, regardless of where you stand on the clubs decisions regarding Abidal, is lack of professionalism. If the club is making decisions on a purely sporting, and not human, basis that’s fine. It’s what every other club does. And if Rosell wants to turn Barca into a modern, profitable, sporting enterprise, it’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. What should be a huge concern for all cules regardless of what you believe the club should be, is that the current regime is not doing a very good job of it. This means the club is turning away from the human element (and its soul as many cules see it), but not even living up to its sporting and commercial potential.

    The lack of communication between the club and various players and coaches regarding their status with the club is a visible sign of the lack of professionalism that is going on. It’s not the whole problem, but it’s very symptomatic of an organization that just doesn’t have things together. Organization, clear lines of decision making and communication, and a clearly articulated strategy are hallmarks of successful franchises. If you look at successful smaller clubs (that aren’t mortgaging their future with debt) they always display these. It’s because they don’t have a financial crutch to fall back on, so they need a clear competitive advantage. If you look at other sports, like the NBA, small market teams have had great success (San Antonio as the prime example but a number of others) because of these things.

    One big advantage that Barca has had for a long time has been a clearly articulated strategy. We have a way that we play, a way that we train players to play, and though there are always variations the vision is constant. This is our competitive advantage, which has been distilled down to its essence in our huge success in the previous seasons. But this isn’t always enough. Don’t think that all these months of leaving players, coaches and staff in limbo are going unnoticed by our players, and those we might want to attract from other teams. When you are competing on this level, professionalism on every level is incredibly important.

    I don’t see how you can be satisfied with this regardless of which side of the issue you fall on.

    1. Very well put. Whether we agree with the decision to let Abidal go or not (I don’t), I think most of us can agree that not only this issue but plenty of other recent situations have been handled terribly, both from a business and a human perspective.

      And Linda, thank you for a well-written and thoughtful (as always) article.

  19. I’m not sure how the current board isn’t doing a very good job of turning the club into a modern profitable sporting enterprise. There was always going to be a slew of disappointed players at the end of this season. Pep ran for too long with too many average players cluttering up our youth teams and gaining contracts which meant we had to promote them. There was always going to come a day of reckoning. The team is successful whichever way you want to judge it, the players were naturally disappointed with Abidal’s release but will get over it and players as always will move for money or the chance of success. The only one recently who seems to have possibly come to us for any other reason is Neymar and by all accounts that was at least partly down to Satan masquerading as Rosell.

    We are very fortunate to have the best two players on the planet (imo), a group of players who seem to also be decent human beings if we are to believe comments from other players in the league and commentators ( and it won’t always be that way), we play the most attractive football on the planet, we have financial stability which allows us to dip into a €50m transfer budget each season and imo we have the prospect of Tata bring a hard headedness to our style of play which I think will eventually make us harder to beat .

    What’s not to like ?

    1. Well, to think of Barça as a sporting enterprise rather than an institution is pretty depressing to begin with… If we want to franchise ourselves we should move and set up shop in the MLS or something.

      Also, how is this board turning us into a modern profitable sporting enterprise? By not spending on color copies and transfers? By (secretly) paying 40M to a player’s father in order to entice him to coming to our club?

      The best two players on the planet and most attractive football on the planet are due to Laporta/Pep. The financial stability we will have to take Rosell’s word for it, but the 50M transfer budget has been left untouched this summer. Tata might or might not be a good move. Time will tell.

    2. Also, several of the other players have made comments recently that show they are not happy with the decisions being made regarding staff (Emili Ricart), players (Abidal), and business (preseason tour). If senior players aren’t happy with things going on at the club, enough that they have mentioned it to the media, we should be paying attention to that.

    3. Ah come on, Isn’t this nitpicking?
      If the only ‘troubles’ in our club currently are the complaints of the departure of one employee and one player, And an unpleasant pre-season, Then that’s wonderful, It puts us at something like at the 90th percentile in regard to the least troubles found in a football club.
      While the pursuit of a flawless administration is an honorable quest, It’s ultimately futile, No such thing exists.

    4. It’s not nitpicking, it’s noticing symptoms of an organization that doesn’t understand how to actually be lean (color copies nonwithstanding), agile, and decisive. While trying to take Barca into the 21st century, Rosell is employing the management techniques of the 50s and calling it ‘advancement’. Football is hellaciously competitive. To stay at the top you need 99th percentile from your whole organization. Clearly we are not getting that.

  20. OT: WTF is wrong with Bruno Alves and why the hell was he not sent off? That elbow to NJr was evil. Hope Ney didn’t break his jaw.

    What a goal by Ney too.

  21. Phenomenal goal by Neymar (Brazil – Portugal)

    The bad news is that Bruno Alves and Pepe are living up to the their reputation of the most thuggish CB pair in the world so keep your fingers crossed we get him back intact…

    1. Neymar went around Pepe for the goal as if he were a training cone…That’s the payback for the yellow card Neymar got for Pepe pushing him out of the way…and for Pepe just being a thug.

    2. I switched to it after the end of Brazil-Portugal – I don’t know how it was in the first half but the second is horrible

    3. For Pepe and Bruno Alves to behave like that in a friendly just shows what a**holes they are. Come to think of it, they should just ban the Portuguese from playing football, period.

  22. I’m already worrying about this particular future. Piqué and/or Mascherano get injured/lose form in the latter half of the season, Puyol is already out, we lose important late season games and win nothing. Everyone says we need to buy a centre half…

    1. Wasn’t that horse savagely beaten to death a couple of threads ago? I completely agree with you, but let’s see what they do in the next transfer window.

    1. I think the article, like your statement, is too much of an “either/or” whereas the team should be a balanced “and”

      For now and probably the next couple of seasons, that balance is tilted towards the best player of the world, whom we are luck to have at our club.

    2. Also, try not to take seriously.
      They try to sensationalise every single news to get more hits. Not worth your time.

  23. Think our pres is bad? (I do) but has anybody seen the quote from F. Perez saying Ozil was too much of a partying playboy, staying up every night drinking and carousing with a series of “mistresses”? Does he think slandering a well-liked player they sold for financial reasons will endear him more to the fans or players? Unbelievable.

    1. Yeah Perez is terrible, but that’s good for us. 😛 I’m glad I don’t have to force myself to dislike Ozil anymore, he and Higuain were probably the only ones I liked from EE. They are both gone now!

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