Categorized | Team News, Thoughts

Mes que un stadium, aka “Truth, social media and what we know”

Image via fcbarcelona.cat

Image via fcbarcelona.cat

Armageddon happened yesterday, set to the sound of cloven hooves clad in Gucci loafers. Or not. It all depends.

FC Barcelona is a lot like sex, or a hot fudge sundae — pretty hard to mess up. So when socis went to the polls on Saturday to vote for … something or other that was going to cost, more or less, EUR 600m, the logic was in fact rather easy to see:

– Boy, do we need a new stadium
– We’re a big club, and need one of those fancy big-club stadium complexes
– Barça will be fine
– What’s Twitter and tweeting? What do bird sounds have to do with Barça?

Of the 118,000+ socis who could have voted for the stadium proposal, just over 30% actually showed up to vote. Of that percentage, an overwhelming majority (70+%) voted yes to the nou Nou.

Faced with the results of that vote, a number of people did a number of things. Some shrugged. Others applauded. Still others gnashed teeth and rent garments in horror and outrage at the gullibility of culers. Can’t they SEE what is happening to this club? Can’t they SEE the nefarious plans that this board has for the soul of the club?

On social media, most notably Twitter, it was fairly easy to set up a follow list that presented you with a worldview that made you think the “No” vote actually had a chance in hell of having sway. It’s the same reason reliability ratings for various appliances are skewed: only the folks with issues complain. The rest think, “What, everything’s fine.”

Photo by FC Barcelona

Photo by FC Barcelona

There is a vociferous cadre of culers who believe that this board has horns and smells of brimstone. They speculate that there are already deals in place to essentially turn over the stadium to Qatar, and lock us into deals that will come with hefty penalty clauses, should we fail to follow through on the soul selling.

That cadre believes that this stadium referendum was a vote for the soul of the club, a last-ditch attempt to wrest control of the club away from the forces of evil. A vote for the referendum, and giving the board the right to deal with this project is essentially saying yes to Gaspart 2.0.

To be frank, even as I wouldn’t trust this board to make me a peanut butter sandwich (jelly would be a bit much), at some point you have to say to yourself, “I believe that Barça is an entity that can’t be screwed up.”

That’s what we have to go on. There is a group of socis who read the Catalan sport dailies, Sport and MD, and trust. Why wouldn’t they, after all? The papers are covering the club, and if you can’t filter all of that stuff through a strainer or other media outlets as well as your own skepticism and mistrust, what’s there to argue with?

Might your own mistrust be misguided? Ssssshhh!

In a lot of ways, the view of the stadium project is tempered by many things, but most fundamentally your view of the board and the baggage that it carries. Obviously, a lot has happened during the tenure of Sandro Rosell/J.M. Bartomeu. If you believe in baggage, they should be tarred, feathered and run out of town. If you don’t believe in baggage, or if you believe that they are in fact saving the club rather than killing it by selling its soul, piece by piece, you have a different view of things, rather like following a Barça match via social media.

What we see, what we know

During the most recent Barça Champions League match I was watching on TV, with one eye on social media. The prevalent tone was that Neymar was mediocre, ineffective and gave the ball away too much in “dangerous positions.” The notion started like a brush fire that became a conflagration and suddenly, Neymar was being cursed every time he touched the ball and didn’t score a goal.

So, skeptic that I am, I caught a rebroadcast, and tracked how many times Neymar, Messi, Xaxi, Iniesta and Alves lost the ball. Neymar lost the ball 7 times, all in or near the opponent’s box except for one time at midfield. Messi lost the ball more than Neymar, in roughly the same areas, again once at midfield.

And then the goal came, and pretty much the same cabal who wanted Neymar eviscerated for losing the ball “too much,” gave full and absolute credit for the goal to the Iniesta pass. None credited the absurd one-touch finish.

What’s the lesson? That social media can shape a conversation in deceptive ways.

Many of the people I follow on Twitter are journalists, interesting Barça pundits and people who aren’t all that fond of the board. So as I was reading, Tweeting and rabble rousing, it would have been tempting to think that the stadium referendum was in danger. Why not, right? Look at the preponderance of people who are voting “NO,” who are photographing and posting their “NO” ballots for the world to see. This is gonna be awesome! The referendum will lose, it will force the board to take a long, hard look in the mirror and call for elections in June. Out with the bums!

Because in the same way social media skews a match view, it also skews every other view. The people who were really going to affect the stadium vote maybe don’t Tweet. Maybe they aren’t voracious social media users. They are directly in the sphere of influence of the Catalan sports dailies, watch Barça TV at home, and discuss the club with their friends. And even if many of us in the opposition group can’t understand it, they don’t think that these guys are doing all that badly.

Club debt is vanishing at a record pace, some excellent signings have been made, the team is active for the Treble. What’s not to like? That FIFA thing will be worked out, just as the Neymar tax liability will be. I believe in my club, and we do need that new stadium, so that we can puff our our chests when our friends from that Other Spanish City come to visit, and we can say “Our stadium is prettier than yours, and doesn’t look like a Tupperware container.” No worries.

But there is another side, who says that we are crazy to trust this crew with this stadium project, that we don’t know what kinds of deals they are cooking up behind the scenes, the corrupt buggers, that I wouldn’t even trust them to get me an ice cream much less shepherd our club into modern times. Just look at the litany of grievances, from Guardiola to Abidal to missing center backs to FIFA bans and conspiracy theories.

What do we REALLY know

The stadium referendum passed. We have a notion of what the new project will entail, and a starting figure for how much it will cost. We know that Bartomeu has said that the surname deal will probably be for 20 years/200m. We know that it will begin in 2017, which is the year after this board is gone, if socis vote them out in the 2016 elections.

nou

Everything else is speculation, based how a supporter feels about the board.

So now what?

For the record, I am one of those people who wouldn’t trust these guys to get me an ice cream. For me, they have a track record of underhandedness and shady dealings that spit in the face of the transparency that Rosell ran on. They waved the Catalan flag during the elections, then tossed it aside when they took office in favor of a “For Sale” sign. Their focus on the new stadium meant many important things were NOT being looked at, so instead of the team renovation that should have been an ongoing process, now we have to hope that FIFA will, during the appeal process, allow us to make transfers before we bend over and take our spanking for improper handling of foreign players. (See? Rosell was right. If those spots had gone to Catalan boys, we’d have no trouble right now.)

I don’t believe in the Debt Monster, nor do I believe that this board is slaying it. I look with skepticism at our record profits, which are rather curiously what we are getting from Qatar (Insert Name Here) for the front of the shirt. I look with skepticism at the austerity that forbade signings this club needed and color copies, the austerity that was kicked to the curb when it came time to sign a Brazilian phenom and plan a nou Nou.

What shapes my view? Good question. As one of those undesirable foreign socis, I tend to consume a great many different sources of club news and information, from Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter, to WhoScored and The Independent. I visit websites, follow links, read opinion pieces and do all sorts of things in an effort to stay “informed.”

It is worth noting that much of what is written about the club is bollocks … nonsense transfer rumors, made-up quotes and other effluvia. But it’s all part of what goes into creating a larger, more semi-complete picture of what I think is going on.

Like a member of the tinfoil hat brigade, I hang on to my beliefs even in the face of a board that has, prima facie, done nothing wrong, even as it has done many things that I dislike intensely, from selling the shirt to the way they jettisoned Abidal. And in many ways that galls me as I wrestle with doubt and distrust. Some examples:

– They made Guardiola leave. (No, Guardiola was quoted as saying that he himself chose to leave because he couldn’t do it any longer with this team.)

– They made Abidal leave. (Well, yes, but it depends on who you believe about that contract business. And truth to tell, he hasn’t been all that hot lately for Monaco, and might not make the France WC squad.)

– Rosell is corrupt. (He was exonerated of the Brazil friendlies stuff, is what we know.)

– They manipulated the debt numbers. Well, duh … so did Laporta and every other president. Winning means you get to define truth.

And so on, and so forth. The Qatar royals were in Barcelona for the Betis match. The antis say that they were there to celebrate being able to fully take over the club, starting with the new stadium, that eventually the club will be taken public and sold to Qatar.

An interesting view, but not one that I hold with. And in full honesty, the biggest reason I don’t trust or like this board is that something doesn’t smell right. And that something bothers me. Too much has happened for it to all be coincidence, with the latest blow being the FIFA transfer ban. You could argue many things, even the lack of transfers in that the right players indeed haven’t come along, that the complexities even immensely talented players face in fitting into this club argue against panic buys. You could argue that. Nothing is nailed down, everything is subjective speculation.

But for me, this board hasn’t sweated for the shirt that it wasted no time selling, front and inside. I don’t want record profits or a zillion sponsorships. I want center backs and trophies. I don’t want a new stadium if it comes at the cost of a priceless generation of talent that, but for a few of the right signings, could have enjoyed even more success. I wonder about its personnel choices and think that Eusebio is a prat, even as he has B sitting in 8th spot in the table, because results are one thing while play is something else.

Trust nothing

I have no idea how many of you get your Barça news and information. I assume BFB is part of it, but I can tell you this: You should trust nothing. There are agendas, skewed information and biases. Take what you get, use all of it to paint the complete picture of what you want to believe, and don’t be afraid to be proven wrong and admit as such. That’s part of it.

You should worry about this club, even as you should understand that it’s pretty hard to fully screw up. Because the club is part of it. It isn’t just the team. Yes, you can just watch matches and cheer for your favorite players and shut it all off when the match is over. But for me, that is an incomplete picture. I want everything. The warts, the politics, the speculation, the internal struggles.

People scoff at things such as the FIFA ban, and say that “mes que un club” isn’t. I in turn scoff at them, because “mes que un club” isn’t some holier-than-thou slogan that the club throws about, written on a banner made of the purest white silk. It is what the club represents to its supporters. It’s charitable foundations, it’s La Masia, it’s politics and Ultras, it’s everything all at once as the club represents a very deep thing for an “autonomous region” that is regaining its identity and wrestling with independence.

And no matter WHAT happens, FIFA bans, tax men calling, payments to player fathers, sold shirts and resigning presidents, “mes que un club” is every bit as valid because it isn’t righteousness … it’s fact.

mes-que-un-club

I wonder, struggle, distrust and doubt everything, even my own doubt and distrust. But I do know this: You can’t kill Barça. This club has had some rancid, festering bastards as presidents, men who with their boards have done damage, set the club back and caused some pain. But through it all, the club survives. It even sometimes thrives. Its most virulent enemies will often come from within. So for me this latest group, even as my loathing of them at times makes me splutter and fume like a rabid dog with Tourette’s, will pass.

It might be 2016, it might be 2022, but it will pass. And the club will survive whatever damage, real or metaphoric, might or might not be inflicted upon it. Because that is what great things do.

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84 Responses to “Mes que un stadium, aka “Truth, social media and what we know””

  1. Jim says:

    A really good and balanced piece, Kxevin. Enjoyed the read. thanks.

  2. LysdeXic says:

    I didn’t say they played a match under Guardiola before the start of Euro ’08. I said that he activated something in them that was already there. He took over before they headed off for Euro ’08 – they headed there with what they were taught at the academy.
    Ciaran, I credited Cruyff numerous times with what Guardiola achieved, & it’s well known that Rijkaard to some degree, did exactly what Pep did, but he’s not Catalan, & wasn’t raised in the system like Pep, so didn’t fully understand it. But it’s based on the same Ajax principle, so Rijkaard was as good as it gets to lead them that way at the time. Lets not forget that Laureano Ruiz started all this. Don’t wanna get into a ‘who knows more about tiki taka’s origin’ arguement. It’s trivial. Laporta like I said, had his vices. But he did more good than harm. It was him that recognized that another Dutchman was the way. It was also Laporta that promoted Guardiola from B team, to first team coach – maybe his pro-Catalan ideals influenced the decision to promote within. But, he was spot on. Besides, nobody could understand the Masia principles better than Pep, since he was brought up in the system & he was Catalan, & the Masia system was superior to the Ajax one – It’s like with Ruiz – he started it, Cruyff perfected it with the ’92 team. The Ajax model was good – the Masia model improved on it, & perfected it. This is beginning to become a whining story. History’s history, Rossel’s only good thing was Ronaldinho’s penning. & then Pep got rid of the egos.
    You’ve been a supporter for long, so you’ll know how shit it was watching RealMadrid dominate in those years we had to watch in agony. The way ppl are destabilizing this club internally, through negligence, & externally, through jealousy, I don’t want us ending up like when Gaspart headed the board. Yesterday’s performance seemed to be affected by this whole ban shabang. It’s like they’ve created a new Fifa virus – fittingly enough, this ban from the sting in Fifa’s operation. They set us up & then just knocked on our door without warning. Like the Fifa virus – everytime there’s been some off field problems, Barca’s performed at a below par level. Martino should stick with a 4 man midfield. Less stress, less possibility for an off field problem to creep into the team’s performance. It will affect them, but with less control aka, less men in midfield, it will affect them more, IMV. May sound silly… but it makes sense.

  3. LysdeXic says:

    -What I meant to say is, Ruiz started the tiki taka, Cruyff perfected it.

  4. Messiah10 says:

    Thanks for the piece Kxevin. I enjoyed it immensely. It’s funny because sifting through information about a club, hobby, etc. can be excruciatingly painful if one doesn’t find what he’s looking for. That is, what they want to read/hear. Most of us have opinions on whatever it is we have opinions about without even having the information to make an educated opinion about said topic. When we see that information it can go one of 2 ways. We agree with it and use it to justify our said belief or we toss it away as being wrong & erroneous.

  5. LysdeXic says:

    I’ll maintain with the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ way of doing things. I like us more with less frills, we sure won’t have to answer as much for the spills if we look less pretty with a nice fancy stadium, that’ll leave even more open seats… Attendances have sucked in this crap giant mammoth fortress stadium from the Noah’s Arc age. Please create a bigger version to boast about, with more empty seats. Something stinks, & our noses have been out in the cold for too long – to quote a Solid Snake line. Or maybe I need a shower… On that note…

  6. Kxevin says:

    This is a comment that I wrote in a post that Kari published on the day Rosell won. Wow:

    Perhaps. I have said before that in my estimation, a lot of what Rosell said during the election is part of the “more Catalan than thou” sweepstakes that the candidates were engaged in.

    But other things concern me:

    –Future of the sporting project, including La Masia and the orientation of future youth projects.
    –Guardiola and meddling
    –Selling the front of the shirt
    –MES and other global philanthropic efforts

    The first point: The sporting project is troubled.
    The second point: Guardiola is gone, the ZubiZa transfer meddling now coming to light.
    The third point: Um, yeah …
    The fourth point: MES is no more, UNICEF is back around the butt region of our players. Yes, the club still has foundations and does philanthropic work, it must be added.

  7. ciaran says:

    Nice post Kxevin, I have to say it’s much more subjective than what you normally write.

    Without specifically defending the current board, it was always going to go this way.
    Laporta put shirt sponsorships in place and the current board implemented it. Everything else is conjecture.
    The Neymar deal, however it was done was spending €57m+ on the best young player on the planet, one who has directly won us many big games this season and may well become the best player on the planet over the next 3-5 years.
    Guardiola left because he thought it was time. Whether he was pushed or not is speculation that will take years to come out if it ever does.
    Abidal had a great start to the season but his form is no where near where it was. Alba has been great and I’d prefer to have Bartra than Abidal playing now too.
    Debt? Well it certainly is less now, even if it was never as bad as they said, it was certainly worse than Laporta said.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s very easy to put a spin on stories where there are little to no facts.

    There is no way the board are going to step down before 2016 but they will almost certainly be gone after that and another candidate with great promises will win and then use the position for their own motives once they have control.

    Politics in football or politics in real life is very similar, and until someone uses ‘a different bunch of liars’ as their campaign slogan I won’t trust them.

    • Peter says:

      Would you trust a slogan of this sort?

      “We’re just a different bunch of liars.*

      *we lied about that one:D

      To be honest, there is a legitimate way to step the board down. A vote of no confidence, which according to some articles was being prepared and the interested parties were just waiting for the referendum to fail before announcing it.

  8. Kxevin says:

    Oh. If Ronaldo is “Penaldo,” we figure Messi is “La Penulga.”

  9. Peter says:

    Here’s a handful of two-cents:

    Barcelona B are 6th. As of right now if they were a normal team, they would be qualifying for the play-offs for Primera Division.

    It’s fashionable to be anti-Rosell/Bartomeu. They don’t “partey” with their loosened ties round their heads, don’t take off their shoes during flights, they aren’t “big hearts”, they’re distant and cold. For me that’s one big reason why the social media is so much against them and likes to show it. People miss the buddy vibes of Laporta and they miss the Catalan vibes. Reportedly Rosell was said to have needed just one thing to consolidate his chair for the next twelve years – embrace Catalanism and do it as President – which he didn’t.

    I remembered reading an article about the 2010 election candidates for president. Rosell was portrayed as borderline racist, a populist using catalan xenophobia and practically ready to crush the innocent dreams of non-catalan kids who wanted to play football(with added evil laughter for bonus). Now Barcelona are banned by FIFA from signing players because this same president and his board took South Korean, Cameroonian, Paraguayan, Nigerian and Argentinian kids. So now that it turns out he isn’t what you wrote him to be, he’s THE SELLOUT and he and his men are incompetent?

    If the guys you’re following on Twitter all share your thoughts and feelings, how on Earth are you going to get the view of the other side?

    There should be a balance between sports success and financial management. If the board cares just about finances, the club will become something like Arsenal. If the board cares just about sport success, the club will become Leeds. I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely certain what I’d rather choose.

    While we’re at the financial side of things, I have to point out for I the umpteenth time, World Class CBs and trophies don’t come for free. They come for money, money that comes from financial sanity and gazillion sponsorships instead of growing on trees. Money that other clubs possess in much larger amounts(City, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern).

    People, sorry, “Vikingos/Ultras Sur” as well as countless Laporta nostalgic fans wonder how is it that the Barcelona board, which doesn’t have money for color copies, talks about up to 120 million available for signings(if needed). It’s actually simple if you think about it: Barcelona have been repaying the bank debt at the rate of over 30 million per year. By summer 2015 this debt is planned to be gone. So what happens if you manage to postpone the payment by one year(it was originally planned to be repaid by summer 2016)? Well, one idea would be to add it to the transfer budget(up to 40 million per year, every year). The club has also been making upwards of 30 million pure profit per year ever since 2011-2012. If I’m not mistaken, the projected profit for this year is about 35 million. And if the club manages to sell players for 15 million(say Song and Cuenca, Affelay and/or Bojan + 50% of David Villa if Atletico sell him), you get a transfer budget of 40+30+35+15 million. Barcelona is obliged to have profit – but it can also break even, if needed. For one year. This is what makes being a FC Barcelona president so juicy a position, and this is what makes it obligatory for that other club and its pawns to destabilize it as much as possible – because pretty soon not even money would be enough.

    BTW, don’t be mistaken, this board doesn’t really want to settle all debts of the club. Back in 2011-2012 Faus was aiming at 200m net debt, continually lowered and compensated with new debt – and none of it bank debt. Why? Because a firm that is in debt gets tax breaks. Anyway, if this board is prudent it can have its cake and eat it. Nike can/will be brought to the table sooner than later for a new contract, especially since Neymar’s signing has made Barcelona Nike’s biggest seller. The current shirt contract runs out in summer 2016, meaning it can be improved(quite a bit actually). A new TV contract is rumoured to either keep revenue at current levels, or elevate them slightly. All that could mean up to 30 million per year – every year – on top of everything else. This is why I’m not really afraid of long-term slump based on not enough money for players.

    A comparison of the signings, that, just for posterity’s sake, of the last four years of Laporta and the almost four years of Rosell:
    Laporta: Hleb, Keirrison, Henrique, Chigrinskiy, Zambrotta, Thuram, Gudjohnsen, Henry, Yaya, Abidal, Milito, Pinto, Henry, Keita, Pique, Caceres, Dani Alves, The Zlatan, Maxwell.
    Rosell: Mascherano, Adriano, Affelay, Cesc, Alexis, Jordi Alba, Song, Neymar.

    Now, as to the ex-Chief Demon’s story, I advise you to read this article if your Spanish is good, or google translate it if it isn’t. Yeah, it’s Mundo Deportivo, but the numbers in it are real. *http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20140405/fc-barcelona/rosell-iba-a-dimitir-el-8-de-abril_54405481741.html#livefyre_div

    Now if you’d excuse me, I need to polish my hooves and horns.

    • Kxevin says:

      I’ll start from the bottom. The MD link is interesting, but the data is real only if you trust MD. A great many folks don’t, just as a great many folks do. It’s what I mean by leavening our worldview with a healthy dose of skepticism.

      As for the initial Rosell worldview, you overstate what many thought, though I appreciate the value of hyperbole to strengthen an argument. Yes, he made the quotes (the concern-raising quotes) about African kids taking spots from Catalan boys at La Masia. The people citing those quotes didn’t make them up. They did raise concern at the time, for very good reason.

      Money is as malleable as numbers. Many trust their word on the numbers. I don’t just as I didn’t fully trust Laporta’s reading on the numbers. It’s worth a revisit of the excellent Swiss Ramble breakdown, that in effect called them both fiscal manipulators, even as both were not entirely wrong.

      But the point the post above makes, and which I will reiterate here, is that ultimately people choose what they want to believe. Some of us are skeptical of everything, others go to the other extreme, saying the club is going to sell everything to Qatar, others say that anyone who has anything bad to say about this current board is biased and reactionary.

      As usual with any situation, the truth is between those poles.

      • Peter says:

        The MD data, meaning the fact that ten police reports had been lodged by Mrs. Rosell, was actually confirmed by Mossos d’Squadra back when Rosell resigned. The video of the security cams was also shown. Unless of course it was also made up by MD.

        As for the hyperbole, Kari’s article on Rosell’s candidacy uses the word “nationalist” and its derivatives five times, the word “racist” and its derivatives four times and contains gems like “(Rosell) dismisses players from Africa because they are ruining the hopes and dreams of local boys. Pedro and Jeffren, of course, are like us, they’re Spanish speakers, they’re not different, they’re not black., “To reject Africa players and African influence, but not reject Argentine players and Argentine influence is nothing less than racism.” and “A vote for Sandro Rosell is a vote for xenophobia at best and racism at worst, with a sprinkling of hypocritical “universality” thrown in.”

        But yeah, I’m the one using hyperbole as an argument. :)

        You’re right, numbers are quite malleable. For example, two of the presidential candidates in 2010 promised to double the income figures by 2016 to 800 million and 792 million respectively. For comparison, at this point four years down the line Real Madrid are the income leaders with 530 million last term(artificial increase due to the mechanics of amortization will see them break the 550 million threshold this year).

        Anyway, I agree with most of your points. We must be informed, but that includes getting information from the other side of the barricade. What we do then with that information is up to us, but at least when we have our opinions it would mean they are informed ones.

        • Kxevin says:

          Recall that Kari was reacting to the Rosell quotes about African kids having suspect birth certificates, etc, and taking Masia spots from Catalan youngsters. Those quotes raised very real concerns on the part of many supporters, including me.

    • Messiah10 says:

      “Barcelona is obliged to have profit. . .” – Peter

      Peter, this is an idea some supporters or general fans have about football clubs. Football clubs aren’t obliged to do anything. Most clubs do not turn a profit. IF they can manage their debt and keep it below a number they’ve deemed financially solvable then that is optimum. This idea that Barca need to turn a profit is ridiculous. It’s not owned by a a capitalistic person or company or conglomerate that is looking to squeeze out every last cent it can. It is a TRUE club in every sense. Supported and operated by its members. The only thing any President/Board is obliged to do is try to implement their ideas that they ran on. So, Rosell ran on ridding the club of debt and that is what he’s tried to do. However, at Barca the President and Board are also “obliged” to put the sporting project first and foremost. Members want trophies, cups, & titles. It’s a fine balancing act. Look what holding on to your purse strings has done to Arsenal. If Rosell and the board want to claim we have to tighten the purse strings bc of debt and the stadium project then don’t spend nearly 90 mil on Neymar. They did so because the debt really wasn’t that bad to begin with. Because they had extra cash for selling the soul of the shirt to a human rights abuse, intolerant, slave labor nation. Oh, but it was their foundation so that made it alright. Wait. Except, there was a clause that allowed the club and foundation to convert it to a corporation that has no ties to Mes Que Un Club. Transparency? Yeah right.

      • Peter says:

        Barcelona is obliged to turn profit, or in other words, not incur losses, due to its member-owned status(same as Real Madrid, Osasuna and Athletic) which lets Barcelona enjoy a lower tax rate. It’s Law. The same law that has those four clubs being investigated for illegal government support by the EU.(Which is a ridiculous charge in the case of Barcelona for anybody who has more than a handful of brains).

        Now, as to the “tighten the purse strings”. Rosell never said there won’t be money for transfers. As a matter of fact the club has spent on average of about 40 million per year. What Rosell wanted to stop was the excessive and ill-advised spending behavior and lower the debt. I hope you can wrap your head around the fact that the debt is not an infinite thing, and the reason why that money was spent on Neymar is because the year before the signings had been worth 33 million(of the 40 million available) and that Thiago Alcantara(20+5 million), David Villa(2.1+3 million) and Fontas(1 million) left the club. It’s a balancing act.

        • Kxevin says:

          The board also has to present insurance to insure proper fiscal management. Laporta can tell people about that one.

          By law, Barça has to be profitable. The club would be foolish not to want to be in the black. The question is degree, something that can be debated endlessly.

          But I am not interested in seeing someone crowing about record profits when there are roster needs that the club could spend those profits on, to my view, which differs from that of others.

    • barca96 says:

      Rosell was portrayed as borderline racist, a populist using catalan xenophobia and practically ready to crush the innocent dreams of non-catalan kids who wanted to play football(with added evil laughter for bonus).

      Now Barcelona are banned by FIFA from signing players because this same president and his board took South Korean, Cameroonian, Paraguayan, Nigerian and Argentinian kids. So now that it turns out he isn’t what you wrote him to be, he’s THE SELLOUT and he and his men are incompetent?

      I totally forgot about that issue and of course its relevance to the ban. Thanks for bringing it up. What do they (the same people who pointed at Rosell) say now? Haha.

      Great info as always Peter. Your comments are usually worth a post. Always something informative. This post by Kxevin too.

  10. Peter says:

    Forgot to add something which is quite important in my view:

    The 10 million per year from the corporate surname are equal to the revenue from 50 000 season tickets priced at 200 Euro.(cheapest season tickets are 131 Euro, meaning 10m = 76 000 of these).

    That’s why the socis don’t really see a reason not to get 200m, if someone is willing to fork them over. Besides, while for the most of us Camp Nou is “Holy S**T, I’m at CAMP FRIGGIN NOU!!!”, for many of them it’s “the stadium round the corner with the thousand stairs to reach the third level”.

  11. “because “mes que un club” isn’t some holier-than-thou slogan that the club throws about, written on a banner made of the purest white silk. It is what the club represents to its supporters. ”

    So is every other club. If that motto is about what the club represents to it’s supporters then it ain’t much. Because supporters always are one hell of a biased lot and principles usually don’t apply there. I think that Motto meant something, especially something to hold on to at the worst times. The good times this club is seeing now makes it irrelevant at times, or something which holds it back. Principles and values always are.

    This management is the most notorious of the lot. You look at the reply given by them to FIFA when the thing first came up – they asked for the law to be changed and for an exemption. That means in last summer window they knew clearly that there was a possibility of ban and did nothing. They went after the pet project of Neymar because they needed him stuff likes this to the fan. I wasn’t a fan of his signing. He is a great talent but I believed we needed other signing more. I was hoping for Reus to be signed instead of Neymar. Now I hear they are going to sign him, for what? Where will he play?

    The hypocracy by this board is unbelievable. if I remember the ones who shout at FIFA not to touch La Masia are the same one who sat beside Rosell and nodded when he said about African players taking catalan kids place in La Masia. He also questioned the number of talents that has come of La Masia after Messi. Now suddenly these bast@@@s feel so great of the farm house.

    The turn of events clearly demonstrates one thing. The results on the pitch will justify whatever the club will management do. They know it better. So whenever their failing are exposed they will make the suaul shouting about how Catalans are attacked. Don’t say to me we are a club where the president was murdered for opposing. That was a different generation. If Franco was alive our board would quietly play the second fiddle to him, they would have their explanations ready.

  12. LysdeXic says:

    Qatar employs slave labour… Maybe FCB’s decision to normalize the situation in the middle East between Israel & Palestine with that ‘Peace Tour’, has come back to bite them in the buttocks. Karma does these things. One is the oppressor, the other’s the oppressed — respectively. An institution like ‘Mes Que un Club’ – the same one that Alves questioned, for the treatment of his best friend, Abidal, should never have sought to ‘normalize’ the known occupation of a land by force, thereby acting like a patsy to an apartheid entity — another one of Rossel’s woes.
    Giving the idea that these are just two forces slugging it out, & seeking to detract from he glaring truth of the matter, that one side has been put into concentration camps in its own country for years, by its occupyer. BDS Catalunya condemed it, like they condemned the Shilat visit, & protested it.
    @ messiah10. This is what I sent to another person that commented on Qatar’s human rights abuse issue. It’s a copy & paste of that. Everytime somebody’s gonna bring up Qatar in that way, I’m gonna bring up the worst human rights actress ever. Don’t believe me? Check out our very own anti Israel organization on the issue; BDS Catalunya. Research their work. You’ll be amazed how Israel, that Zionist entity, makes any human rights abuser look like a choir boy, on a Sunday. Nicely kitted in his Sunday shoes, Sunday pants, Sunday socks, Sunday shirt. Even wearing a bow tie, singing hymns of love & joy, & glad tidings, & kumbaya…

    • Jim says:

      It’s a pretty messy path to go down picking an unacceptable aspect of a country’s affairs and citing that as a reason for having nothing to do with them. Both my country and the USA have hardly unblemished records in many of these areas, especially in the one regarding “occupation of a land by force”. All this does is bring out deeply held political views which can quickly turn into carnage on this blog. We have a lot of experience in this area with our troubles in Northern Ireland and the one thing we seemed to have taken on board is that eventually the two sides need to come together and talk so I’m not sure how much damage a football match or two can cause.

  13. LysdeXic says:

    Not actress. Abuser *

  14. LysdeXic says:

    Oh yeah er… On a ‘lighter’ note. Bayern Munich, also known as FCB, funny enough. Their kit colours for next season are, ha ha, blue… &, red stripes. Interesting colour scheme they’ve got going there, for next season.

  15. LysdeXic says:

    At least the shirt is blue & red striped. The rest is all crimson… What’s next, Mes Que ”UNT” Club <- said in a German accent. Hail!!

  16. Peter says:

    I have a question to the guys shouting that Rosell sold the shirt.

    Marc Ingla i Mas was apparently the guy everybody wanted to win around here. Here’s his projection for the income of Barcelona:
    http://www.box.net/shared/76ph9m87jc? (can be found on the 7th page)

    2010: Total income 405.0 million, 10.0 million from international business
    2011: Total income 415.4 million, 20.0 million from international business
    2012: Total income 439.8 million, 56.7 million from international business
    2013: Total income 535.1 million, 115.8 million from international business
    2014: Total income 546.5 million, 183.7 million from international business
    2015: Total income 715.5 million, 227.8 million from international business
    2016: Total income 792.1 million, 288 million from international business

    That was not selling the club? By 2016 each of the six embassies around the world would have to generate 48 million Euro per year, a total amount that is two times higher than the current TV contract, which practically all of Europe considers cheating? From what would that money be made, selling memorabilia, baby clothes and key-holders?

    • Jim says:

      Thanks for the detailed info, Peter. Being a total outsider it’s helpful in making sense of the affairs of the club.

      Btw, on a darker note, it’s Howard Webb on Wednesday night. Some may remember his finest 45 minutes as a ref ……. Doesn’t bode well away from home with his views on what is acceptable aggression.

      • Peter says:

        If I were inclined to be cynic, then the intention would be to be permissive, but showing a few well-placed cards, so that the survivor goes to the semis with key players suspended.

        Atletico got six yellows last game and have three players that are one card away from a booking: Gabi, Juanfran and Emiliano Insua.
        In Barcelona it’s Iniesta and Fabregas if I’m not mistaken.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        Right Jim. Atletico can do anything in the first half and Webb will just keep on warning.

        Came across this article – http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4183717/20140405/xavi-torres-the-barca-board-has-acted-only-out-of-vengeance.html
        The following part made me really curious. If this is true, its a pity.
        Barça had built a famous training school in Argentina precisely to not bring kids here and avoid this whole thing. They could have the kids there until they were old enough to compete here. That project was totally criticized by Rosell’s candidacy and they closed it the first day he was president.

    • Kxevin says:

      Rosell won. Ingla didn’t. Rosell sold the shirt. Everything else is bench racing, as we have no idea what would have happened. Fiscal straits were so dire that Laporta was the one who got approval to sell the shirt. So it could be said by someone that Laporta created the conditions.

      Laporta backed off, claiming that his board improved things so they could claim to be saviors of a different kind.

      None of which ameliorates the fact that Rosell took the decision to implement it.

  17. Levon says:

    *As far as mes que un club goes, maybe we can change the motto to mes que un club to some of its fans

    *Barcelona presidents have a history of telling so many lies to their members that a lot of members seem to have stopped caring about being lied to. They just want a nice stadium.

    * Deerwithwings, if you are reading this, how long you gonna be here for? Hit me up on twitter with a direct message ( @barsalev ) if you wanna go see the CL tie in a bar somewhere. Unless you have tickets for the Calderón, of course. In that case don’t speak to me!

    • I was just making a joke about Les Corts unfortunately, which, for some reason always amused me during my years in Barcelona.

      I’ll be watching the game in a bar in New Orleans. Have a dozen vermuts for us all!

  18. Kxevin says:

    Another set of tea leaves? MD had a story today saying that Rosell was planning to resign because of the death threats, but that the Neymar business sped up the decision.

    This strikes me as new and interesting, because IIRC, the party line (as posted above by Peter) was that it was the death threats alone. So what in the heck does this mean? Is there some new board machination going on that is changing the official story, or what?

    – The club will wear the black kit for the Atleti away tie. It’s the “official” CL away kit, but I know that the Senyera has been rearing its head this Champions League season. Last time at the Calderon in the black kit, we won 1-2. Let’s do this!

    – Speaking of, Howard Webb is the referee for that Atleti leg. Double shin pads for everyone. Juanfran is rejoicing.

    – Bartomeu confirmed that the Halilovic transfer is a done deal, and will not be affected by the FIFA business, however it pans out. I would assume, since Ter Stegen was done long before Halilovic, that we also have our new keeper locked down.

    – Speaking of FIFA, looks like one of the players that the club is being sanctioned for was a Catlunya resident since birth, and his parents have been in the region since 1999. The story is here, in MD:

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20140407/mundo-barsa/abdoul-sancion-fifa-barca-error_54405529895.html#.U0JR08YWGG8.twitter

    • Kxevin says:

      Oh, and Sport says that further tests on the Pique hip injury indicate that it isn’t as severe as initially thought. Now he will be out two weeks, instead of four. More good news.

      • Kxevin says:

        Further buzz is that some of the other players in question were signed before the FIFA strictures took effect. This is getting more and more interesting, and explains Bartomeu’s confidence that the club will be able to buy this summer. I would reckon they are thinking they have sound grounds for an appeal beyond “Look at all the good we do!”

        • ciaran says:

          I have to say that I fully expect us to be signing in the summer as I have said from the start.
          It is entirely possible that even during an appeal process we would be able to sign and the board already said that they would be able to spend the entire budget on transfer meaning €120million plus player sales.
          This would be the equivalent of two transfer summers anyway.

          It could be our busiest ever window.
          I’d like young players like Deulodeu & Sergi Roberto to be loaned.
          I’d be ok with selling Tello as he seems to have regressed and needs consistent first team outings although I could still see him becoming a dangerous attacker.

          For fear of not being able to sign next summer, I’d like to sign and loan back Danilo of Porto for a future right back slot when Dani Alves leaves.
          I’ve watched a bit of Porto this season and he has really impressed me. Mangala is very good defensively too but can barely pass a ball.

          Mehdi Benatia of Roma has had an exceptional season but gets booked a lot. Still, he has everything needed to defend for us. Mateo Musacchio is another I’d be considering, as well as Federico Fazio potentially too as a back up.

          I can’t see us signing a central midfielder with Rafinha coming back although if Song goes as expected then there would be a slot free.

          If we have a spare €80million then we could probably buy Luis Suarez too… to add a little bite to our frontline :-)

          • Kxevin says:

            The rumors about Reus and/or Gundogan persist. Who knows, ultimately. But I am confident that good buys will be made. This current group has a track record that way, despite the “ZubiZa sucks” narrative.

          • Messiah10 says:

            Kxevin, I hope we don’t buy Reus or Gundogan. I’d prefer we stay away from attacking midfielders and concentrate on 2 CBs, 1 L/RB, 1 DM in the Dembele type mold ala Yaya.

        • Levon says:

          Reus only makes sense if we sell Pedro or Alexis… I hope the board focuses instead on positions we need.

          Anyway even if we receive a stay of execution any club will drive a hard bargain knowing that we won’t be able to sign for the next two windows…

      • No No No…. It has all the making of rushing him back like we did with Messi.

    • Peter says:

      According to a few comments with background in civil law, the ban can be overturned for more than one reason:

      - the 4 month delay in communicating the ban
      - the error in banning Abdoul
      - if some of the rest of the players were enrolled before the regulations coming in force, their enrolment cannot be retroactively prosecuted

      All this points out to some very serious negligence by the FIFA commission
      More to the point, which lots of people either forget or choose not to remember, these regulations were introduced to battle youth player trafficking and abandoning. I’d like to see who will try to argue that Barcelona are trafficking youths with the active collaboration of their parents(some of whom are contemplating legal actions against FIFA).

  19. Temple says:

    Off the topic bit. How true is this stuff, we have won more trophies than Real, in general? “Whoa!” [just scroll to page end] — http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_records_in_Spain#Individual

  20. Kxevin says:

    The team trained today with Fabregas as a false 9, flanked by Messi on the right, Neymar on the left and Iniesta in midfield. Hmmmm …

  21. This has nothing to do with Barça, but the mayor of Madrid isn’t a friend of cules:

    http://www.publico.es/politica/512970/grand-theft-auto-de-esperanza-aguirre-el-videojuego

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Thanks for that link. Most neutral one so far.

    • Valdemar II says:

      “We broke the rules”, or the comparision to common crime such as speeding are not 100%, since this FIFA rule has never (?) been enforced before.

    • Peter says:

      The most accurate comparison would be a top university being prohibited from enrolling students because they enrolled students from other countries.

      Nobody is going to make that comparison, first because it shines a light on just how ridiculous the FIFA regulation is, and second because it would draw compassion towards Barcelona – and everybody(but culers) loves to hate Barcelona.

      • Peter says:

        Furthermore, if FIFA were to reform this regulation and add academies that provide off-the-pitch education to the exceptions, FIFA would have to regulate these academies – and that would mean FIFA has to do some work, work that doesn’t guarantee bribes and profits. In other words, Nightmare.

        In any case, there are serious grounds to challenge that regulation at least EU-wide, because it prohibits freedom of movement.

  22. bhed says:

    So I was watching ESPNFC, and Gab Marcotti seemed to indicate that the ban would go into effect only after the appeals process. For the last week I’ve been wondering about this, is it in place now, during the appeals process, and could be rescinded after a ruling, or does it take effect after the appeal is denied (if it’s denied)?

    Seems pretty straightforward, but I haven’t seen a definitive answer. Does anyone know for sure?

    • Kxevin says:

      As I understand it that appeals process is no different than any other. So in same way a team will appeal a red card so that an important player can play a match, this appeal process would essentially return things to status quo (no ban), which would allow the club to make transactions during the appeal process.

      There are of course levels of appeal process, so this could presumably be dragged out for a while. The other complexity is if FIFA want to stick to their guns, they could delay or not approve at all the transactions that take place during the appeal period. But that is a legally complex thing that would open the body up to court action from us, I rather imagine.

      • Levon says:

        Exactly. Imagine that FIFA does not let us sign anybody this summer and then we actually win the appeal afterwards…

      • bhed says:

        So, barring a very quick denial of our appeal, it looks like we should be able to make some transfers this summer? That, of course, is the 120 million dollar question.

        The way everyone has been talking in the media, I was under the impression that the ban was in effect as of now. If we can get a couple of defenders (CB and RB)and a goalie this summer, I think we’ll be set if we’re blocked summer of 2015.

        On a different note, I think Bartra’s performances in the last 2 games, plus his performances earlier in the season, make him our #2 behind Pique and ahead of Mascherano (who admittedly has played pretty well in the last 2 games). Of course, I still don’t think Tata sees it that way.

  23. barca96 says:

    Was going to watch Chelsea PSG later because the tie is still alive but now that Ronaldo is a doubt and Lewandowski is back in the team, that tie could be exciting too. Hmmm

  24. Kxevin says:

    Arda Turan not in the Atleti squad tomorrow. Costa is but will be a match day decision. Man, that bus is going to be PARKED.

  25. Valdemar II says:

    Anyone else enjoying “EE”‘s collapse? 2-0 BVB at HT, dominance, if only we could press like Dortmund… EE’s counters are a joke. Not getting my hopes up too high, but if M* keep playing like a Bundesliga 2 side…

  26. Leckan1 says:

    What a garbage choker Mkhitaryan is. He missed three absolute sitters where one was basically missing an empty net. Dortmund had it; they were going to do it but when you have a choker missing chanses like that it’s impossible.

    Madrid were incredibly lucky and didn’t deserve to go through based on this but I guess deserving has nothing to do with it.

    Marco Reus MOM by a country mile. What a player.

    • ooga aga says:

      Is Di Maria also a garbage choker for missing the penalty in the first 20 minutes that would have basically clinched it? (BVB would have needed 5 goals)

      • Leckan1 says:

        I guess although he slipped.

        Listen, Mkhitaryan is clearly a good player and outside of that was one of Dortmunds best players tonight but missing chances like that when it’s directly decisive, in a game like this is simply unnaccceptable. I don’t want to hear “anyone could’ve missed those” or any such excuse. Dortmund put Madrid to the sword but you cannot expect to go through with missed chances like that. He let his team down big time. Weidenfeller save was for naught tanks to Mkhitaryan. If that were a Barca player I would be fuming right now.

    • Messiah10 says:

      As William Bony said, “Deserves got nothin to do with it”

  27. Laurentiu88 says:

    alonso red card….key moment!!

    now let’s all repeat uefalona… :))

  28. BA says:

    the forces of evil won today. hopefully tomorrow won’t be the same.

  29. Messiah10 says:

    Ibra was a huge miss for PSG today. I hate Chelski w/a passion. I hate Mou even more. However, I ain’t mad PSG are out. When Ibra is healthy they are a force. Still top draw w/out him, but he’s a difference maker as much as I dislike him as well. Really thought Dortmund were going to pull out a miraculous comeback. Had their chances. Weidenfeller is a great keeper. Made some great saves today. Kept them in the game w/a shout.

  30. The BVB pressing was something of an art. It killed every chance of counter.

  31. raj says:

    That slug out by Chelsea brought out some bad memories.. feeling sick in my stomach. Hopefully tonight will be good.

  32. Jafri says:

    From ZM, on last week’s match:

    “The problem with Fabregas, however, is that he’s suited for the exact opposite type of match. His anarchic, English-style play (at least compared to the other midfielders) is most useful in games against relative minnows, where Barca are dominating possession against a parked bus, and find the use of another midfield runner very useful. He doesn’t quite fit into Barca’s pretty passing patterns, but is more of a goalscoring threat than any other midfielder.

    In the big games, though, is doesn’t make sense to include a player like this. Big games often bypass Fabregas, and when the tempo of matches is high, he’s not actually particularly effective despite being that type of player himself. Everyone is forced to play a high tempo, and Fabregas’ USP has gone.”

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