Gone before he even got to step onto the MiniEstadi pitch, Sergi Guardiola’s contract with Barça B was rescinded today, after a series of Tweets from his past came back to whack him upside the noggin. There was anti-Catalan sentiment, barbs at Messi and of course, the unforgivable “Hala Madrid!”
The player says that he didn’t send those Tweets, that he would never offend like that, and a friend got hold of his phone and posted the stuff. Ah, youthful hijinks.
The club, of course, in a bit of snuffling dudgeon, said “He said WHAT?!” and made young Guardiola into the newest member of Unemployed Footballers, to “Huzzahs!” from culers, along with much mirth. But there’s a lot to be considered here, so let’s do this point by point:
— If you’re a 24-year-old midfielder going to a club that grows midfielders like dandelions, it’s probably a good idea to scour your social media persona every now and again. This is, of course, true no matter where you go. Employers, as part of due diligence, check on employees. So if you’re an accountant, going for a job at a mainline firm, it’s probably a good idea to make sure there aren’t pictures of you, drunk and laying on a money-strewn bed, flipping a double bird to the world. You won’t get that job. So Guardiola messed up.
— The club didn’t do its due diligence before the contract, but as so many contracts have the equivalent of a morals clause, it’s easy to get out. Folks scoffing at the scouting of the club are misguided. There is scouting, which evaluates a player’s on-pitch quality, then the scrubbing of a player afterward, to make sure doesn’t have unfortunate stuff in his past, like saying he doesn’t want to share a locker room with a gay player, biting, or being found guilty of making racist remarks, which brings us to the most valuable lesson:
— If you’re good enough at your job, it doesn’t matter what you say or do. Watch the backflips and bending that France Football will do to ensure that its key forward manages to play in the Euros, speaking of friends getting somebody in trouble. Karim Benzema has some still unknown part in an attempt to blackmail a France NT teammate. But the goals, people! Suarez “deserves a second chance,” because visions of goals were dancing in culer heads. Look at Rakitic, to the manor born. If young Guardiola had been the second coming of Xavi, the club would have found a way to work around those offending Tweets. As it is, he’s an excellent player in the Segunda B context, which makes him disposable.
— Don’t mess with politics. Barça is a bright, shining symbol of Catalanisme, never more so than right now, as a board has wrapped itself in the flag under yet another president. Laporta and Rosell tried to out-Catalan each other, and now Bartomeu is in it to win it. He’s battling the UEFA Esteladas fine like a Trojan, even as he and everyone else knows Quixote had a better chance with those windmills. It’s the spirit of the thing. So a disposable player Tweets something negative about Catalunya, and out he goes. Sacked. Duh. But of course, having a sponsor that is questionable is okay. “It’s Qatar Airways, which isn’t the regime, and anyhow the biggest problem is that the shirt was sold too cheaply.” Okay. But it was actually pretty expensive. Everything is malleable, even a bright, shining symbol. “Look at all the money they are giving us,” says the president, brushing mud from the club crest. Politics is malleable. With enough money, a piece of iron will bend like a napkin.
— Don’t tolerate a knucklehead. The club should have jettisoned his butt, not because he was stupid, but because he wasn’t careful. We’re all boneheads at some point or another. When confronted with that boneheadedness, the folks in charge of your future have some decisions to make. The club didn’t dump him because of the Tweets, from this chair. He got dumped because he’s a bonehead, and boneheads are too expensive at the Segunda B level.
One of my moral barometers and a member of the BFB team, who is blackwhitengrey on Twitter, said that she was uncomfortable with the decision. That makes two of us, for the reasons laid out above. Players are buttheads all the time. Don’t forget L’Affaire Busquets. The question is, what is the potential cost and gain to and for the club? This dictates how said entity will deal with it. John Terry, Jamie Vardy and a number of others, all plying their trade at the toppity top top of the modern game, because they are so good that people look the other way. It happens in every sport. That’s the uncomfortable part, the moral malleability.
No, I don’t believe that Barça can sell the shirt to Qatar, use the money to buy Suarez, say nothing at all about Rakitic, forget about Busquets, then jettison some young midfielder for a few dimwitted Tweets. It’s behavior that is contradictory. And the same culers who are snarling “Good riddance, ya heathen, you did it and you know you did,” were screaming at anyone unwilling to countenance Suarez coming to the club. Second chances, he’s in therapy, Evra’s a dirty liar and goals, you know. A Treble is the result, and does the cost of that treble really matter? Good question.
So for many, this situation is more complex that just a knucklehead who got busted with something stupid in his past. It’s about hypocrisy, and the tyranny of quality. Basically, Guardiola wasn’t good enough to be a butthead. So he’s out. But it’s fair to ask questions about outrage, standards and a club’s flexibility at convenient moments.