Well, this is weird. Somehow, FC Barcelona has gone from a team that was a clueless, rambling mess that didn’t stand a chance against the Liga champions Atletico de Madrid, to being a goal up (should have been more) and with a leg in the semifinals.
At the same time, an administration is flailing during the run-ups to elections, promising the equivalent of a chicken in every pot. The situation creates a “Yay!” “Boooo!” sort of quandary that needs a little bit of sorting out.
For many culers who disagree with this board and its tenure, a quandary presents itself. Sporting success tends to always buttress the claim of the incumbent. After all, Barça is a sporting project and all the rest is … well … the rest for many culers. Laporta didn’t get in trouble with socis and face a censure vote because of any of his peccadilloes — he got in trouble because of two silverless seasons, and barely survived the vote.
Yes, it’s politics and mes que un club, but the reality is that as long as that club is winning, socis have little interest in upsetting the apple cart that sits at the head of any victory parade.
So way deep down in the hearts of many a culer and soci lurks an awful feeling, too deep and dark to even face the light of day or utter even to themselves … it would be pretty good if Atleti mounted a remuntada, if the club went silverless because then that would mean that when elections are convened this summer, they would be gone for sure.
It is really a situation that, just as we separate the team from the club in thinking about who and what to support, flips itself in that many are wondering if some short-term pain for the team wouldn’t be worth it, for the good of the club.
The team has come together, and is playing wonderful football right now. Analyze all anyone likes, but I have just about zero interest in whether it is the team against its coach, the team and its coach against the board, us against them, them against the others, somebody against somebody. All I know is that the team is playing great football right now.
The board, in specific Bartomeu and Cardoner, have taken this opportunity to offer up some nifty keen stuff:
— More than 1k socis who have been on the season ticket waitlist, will get their precious ducats.
— Socis past the age of 70 and below the age of 14 get into home matches free.
— We have a foot powder sponsor! Yay, and phew!
When asked at the press event whether the ticketing stuff was part of the incumbent board’s election campaign, Cardoner (naturally) said “Why no, this is just part of our benevolent social strategy for the club.”
And to cap it all off, Bartomeu is adding fuel to the fire by saying that mean ol’ FIFA is unfair, and he doesn’t think that RM should be punished for their youth player transgressions, because Article 19 is just silly anyhow. And further, there is a transfer ban, but of course we can buy players. We just have to find somewhere to park them until January 2016. So … what transfer ban?
And to cap it all off, like Rip Van Winkle emerging, bleary-eyed from his slumber, Bartomeu is suggesting that hey, there just might be some complexities with the club’s title sponsor, that the situation with Qatar has changed recently, bla bla bla.
Don’t be fooled. I don’t have to go into what this board has done over the course of its four-year demolition project and frankly, I don’t feel like it anyhow, because I don’t want to get mad. But any, every and all things that they have done, from tickets and “Hey, Qatar might be naughty after all,” to appointing Jordi Roura as head of youth football and the latest bit, filling ZubiZa’s job with FOUR dudes, is an effort to say, “Vote for us. A chicken in every pot,” as the Depression-era politicians used to say. Promise everything, and let’s wait to see what we can deliver. Most important is to get re-elected.
Meanwhile the football team stands 90 minutes away from having an excellent chance at winning silver this season. Even though there is no sense counting chickens before any hatching, etc, it’s a pretty safe bet that the winner of this tie will be expecting to make the Copa final.
For me that is a blessing and a curse, and all that I can say is don’t be fooled. We know what was done and how they did it. We know. The real question is whether some benevolence and magic from the football team can be enough to keep a horrific board in power for another six-year term.
I’m confident about the football team, but less so about the board’s chances and the conservatism of older socis, who believe that this board is actually saving the club, but from a business worldview. And even as I will never, ever worry enough about this board to wish failure on the football club, it’s a struggle, a pitched battle between heart and mind, body and soul. Somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. The problem is that it’s possible for different people to profit from different things.
But. Whatever happens, don’t be fooled.