BFB at the Box Office: FC Barcelona Confidential

Just to earn my movie review merit badge before I head off to the K&S Film Festival and blog about that for a week, I thought I would review a documentary that I recently watched. It’s called FC Barcelona Confidential as well as FC Barcelona: The Inside Story, depending on where you’re looking.

Directed by Justin Webster and Daniel Hernández, this 2004 documentary looks at the first year of Joan Laporta’s reign as president of FC Barcelona from a very inside perspective. The team was granted amazing access to Laporta, his team, and the club throughout the year, starting from the night they won the election. From the outset, it is obvious that Laporta, then vice president Sandro Rosell, Marc Ingla, and the rest of the board are aware they are being filmed, but the crew still managed to capture some very heartfelt moments, such as when Laporta, in the middle of the season with the team struggling to win matches and the media breathing down his neck, stands alone in a darkened Camp Nou on the presidential balcony and screams “Barça!” at the empty stadium.

Whether you’re a Barça fan or just someone interested in the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of international organizations (and FCB is certainly that now), this documentary provides you with the opportunity to watch as a determined group of businessmen take an aging institution from the brink of financial ruin and force it into modernity. Still, this is not a rags-to-riches story, but rather a riches-to-more-riches story, with the documentary making it clear early on that these were new wealthy elite of Barcelona taking on this project from the old, landed elite on the up-swell of populism, rather than a grassroots organization devoted to the people, as some would have you believe.

The political machinations, the egos, and the basic humanity of the principle players of that moment in FCB’s history play out in front of the camera as they do in all documentaries. Laporta’s fight with the Boixos Nois and his “almost” encounter with their thugs makes him seem both more human and somewhat unsettlingly macho, but also speak to the intensity with which local society and these men in particular approach the subject of their business. Rosell’s eventual departure from the club (and now his resurrection as the front runner to replace Laporta in this year’s elections) start as merely tiny grumblings in a board meeting and grow ever more vociferous throughout the film, the tension rising as the viewer recognizes fewer and fewer “moments” between Laporta and Rosell and more and more disputes in meetings.

At 81 minutes, the film is just long enough to provide in-depth information while still remaining watchable. The camera work itself is occasionally disjointed and sometimes gives off a disagreeable “hidden camera” feel, such as in the contract negotiation scene with Ronaldinho’s agent (his brother, Roberto), but every now and that approach stumbles upon the funny moments that make up reality, such as when Laporta is micro-managing his secretary as she types up a contract and Ronaldinho wanders into the background while juggling a ball in the hallway.

You can watch the movie here in English or here in higher-quality, but in Spanish.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

64 Comments

  1. fcbfan
    May 25, 2010

    Great post Isaiah! Is the one posted on BBC website before? oh yes seen it. Good documentary.

  2. JDBarca
    May 25, 2010

    Sounds like an interesting watch. It’ll be cool to see what goes on behind the scenes at the club we love to watch on the field.

  3. Jnice
    May 25, 2010

    I’ve watched this about 3 times. Great documentary, also gives you a feel for how some of the presidential hopefuls (Ingla and Rossell) are.

    • Kari
      May 25, 2010

      True dat. Rosell sounds like a douche, looks like a douche and probably smells like one, too. Don’t like him at all.

      The rest I don’t really mind. I’m all of the continuity candidates though!

  4. MarioSilva (tutomate)
    May 25, 2010

    Sorry I posted this in the last article but since it’s important I’ll re-post it.

    This was in response to article linked by some here over at:
    *http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-can-barcelona-afford-cesc-fabregas.html

    The Swiss Rambler said…

    Thanks all for the kind words. As you may guess by the length of my articles, I put a fair bit of effort into my research, but it feels like it’s worth it with comments like these.

    @Terence,
    “repeatedly and mercilessly ridicule them” – that’s a fine turn of phrase that genuinely made me laugh out loud.

    @gooner4life,
    If we take the broadest definition of debt (€489m), most of it is derived from normal operations.

    The largest element here is Trade Creditors with €247m. I did not analyse all of this in the article, but the major factors are:

    – payable to suppliers €70m (normal operations)
    – payable to tax authorities €61m (normal operations)
    – remuneration payable €60m (almost certainly for bonus payments, which is “normal”, but high after Barcelona’s many trophies)
    – sporting entities payable €50m (these are the payments due to other clubs that I mentioned, which do seem on the high side, but it’s still “normal” business)

    Accruals total €106m (current €84m + non-current €22m). This includes accruals for costs which have been reflected in the P&L, but have not yet been paid. Confusingly, this category also includes deferred income, where payment has been received by Barcelona, but the club has yet to provide the services, so cannot recognise the income in the accounting period. For example, some of the money received from the Mediapro TV rights deal covers future accounting periods, so is booked here.

    The provisions are higher than I would expect, due to the disputes I mentioned above (tax, TV).

    Overall, it’s a solid P&L – how many football clubs make a profit these days? However, if the TV rights were subject to collective bargaining, presumably leading to a significant reduction in Barcelona’s allocation, it would be exposed.

    The balance sheet is also reasonable, as it has net assets, compared to many clubs which have net liabilities, but it could be healthier. You are absolutely correct that these liabilities have to be paid (and most of them are short-term), but Barcelona is a cash-generating machine, so I don’t see that as an insurmountable challenge.

    To put Barcelona’s total liabilities (“debt”) of €489m (£417m) into context, Arsenal reported total liabilities of £639m in their latest accounts – and we’re the good guys financially.

    So basically Sandro’s claim of 489M in debt is taking the ambiguous meaning of debt into account. Things that include; services not yet rendered, future taxes owed to the gov,etc.
    What a sleazeball.

    Arsenal (Liabilities)—— Barcelona (Liabilities)
    (pounds)639m——————–416m
    (euros) 749m——————–489m
    ($)916m————————-601m

    • MarioSilva (tutomate)
      May 25, 2010

      Thanks to Han and Flyzowee and of course the author.
      By the way the authors quote ends at “….. good guys financially” the rest my own.

    • Kari
      May 25, 2010

      Thanks for the post, tutomate!

      Ugh. I really hope we don’t elect Rosell!

  5. jordi
    May 25, 2010

    Anyone saw this BS?

    *http://www.marca.com/2010/05/25/futbol/equipos/barcelona/1274765709.html
    You just know they are going to hit Pep hard.

    • jordi
      May 25, 2010

      Eh,update, they didnt do anything for now

      *http://www.sport.es/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=44&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=716686&idseccio_PK=803

      • Kari
        May 25, 2010

        Funny, I just read that. What a-holes. They know that Pep was right and there’s proof, but they don’t like people calling them out.

        Villarato my a$$.

  6. vicsoc8
    May 25, 2010

    I’m a little late to the conversation…

    I love Filipe Luis. Absolutely love him. Are the any sources about our renewed link to him?

    • Kari
      May 25, 2010

      I found this one from Brazilian paper, O Globo:

      *http://globoesporte.globo.com/futebol/futebol-internacional/futebol-espanhol/noticia/2010/05/depois-de-negociacao-frustrada-em-2010-barca-volta-tentar-filipe-luis.html

      and EMD coupled with an obviously made up link to Poulsen (seen as a replaceent for Yaya if he leaves. I got one thing to say to that: hell to the Yaya no.)

      *http://www.elmundodeportivo.es/gen/20100525/53933547303/noticia/el-barsa-atento-a-poulsen-y-filipe-luis.html

  7. Eklavya
    May 25, 2010

    i dont think we need another LB. i also like felipe but if we can get him next season it would be better.

  8. Kari
    May 25, 2010

    Aww, Villa fits right in 🙂

    *http://www.elmundodeportivo.es/gif/20100525/seleccion250510_m6.jpg

    BTW, it’s so unfair! Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Pedro! and Valdes were on the same team ( 😛 )

    • Ciaran
      May 25, 2010

      That’ll be a nicer picture when Bojan and Cesc are both lined up as Spanish & Barca too. I was a little disappointed that Bojan didn’t manage to break into the squad. He didn’t deserve a place but I was still hoping. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of him next season. I hope we go far in every competition next season so that everyone gets a good mix of minutes.
      …Everyone except for Chyggy, I panic when he’s on the pitch unless it’s the first matches of the Copa. Unfortunately, I have lost faith. It doesn’t happen often that I lose faith in a Barca player. I did with Hleb too but the last player other than those that I lost faith in was Michael Reiziger. Hell, I even had hope for Maxi Lopez, who is tearing it up in Catania for the record, 11 goals in 17 matches to help them to a mid-table finish.
      I went off on a rant. oops.

  9. MarioSilva (tutomate)
    May 25, 2010

    Just finished seeing the documentary. Makes me love my club even more. Also showed a lot of what “el president” is like he is actually pretty humble.

    As for Sandro I got mixed feelings. At first he seemed genuine and nice,but as the seasoned progressed he seemed to start wanting more and more power.He seems like a shrewd business man but not so much a good person.

  10. MarioSilva (tutomate)
    May 25, 2010

    Number 1 reason to not trust Rosell?

    Marca, AS, EMD, and Sport are all pro-Rosell.

    I don’t trust the rags.

    • barca96
      May 26, 2010

      no. only one of the catalan papers is pro-rosell.
      the other is pro-ferrer.

  11. Dave
    May 25, 2010

    Great post Isaiah.Write many film reviews? just gonna watch it now

  12. Ciaran
    May 25, 2010

    My above rant got me youtubing and I found this…
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV3HkFxn1-M
    Maybe we should sign him and sell off the other big striker we have 🙂

  13. Jnice
    May 25, 2010

    My favorite player, Mo Edu with the goal for USA. UMD in the house.

  14. Reagan
    May 25, 2010

    It’s a good documentary Isaiah. I saw it some time ago and posted the link on this site.

    When it comes to Rosell, well, I was completely against him before I saw this film but after you watch it, I honestly felt he was the brains behind every decision he made and Laporta was merely the pretty face of the show. But, I think Laporta starts evolving throughout the 81 minutes, as the other directors convince him that he should really take charge of the meetings ( it wasn’t that Rosell was doing anything wrong). It’s just that when guys like this come together, the egos are bound to clash eventually. Notice how Ferrer is hardly in the movie. I don’t think he’s good enough to lead this club. Ingla seems like the best option.

    PS. Come home, Fabregas!!

    • Reagan
      May 26, 2010

      Awesome! Yeah certainly seems like Ingla is the actual continuity candidate for all the right things that happened with the club and Ferrer is basically a good man but he hasn’t been man enough to stand up and tell Laporta that he has made some questionable calls. People may criticize Ingla and Soriano for leaving a rocky boat at the time but they were the brains behind most of the big decisions and couldn’t stand Laporta throwing it off-track. Rosell is hell bent on revenge and is a strict no-no

  15. Eduard
    May 26, 2010

    i enjoyed the documentary, didn’t learn much new, but interesting non-the-less.

  16. Han
    May 26, 2010

    I like Ingla as well, seems thoughtfull and not too egocentric. Furthermore he is joining forces with Soriano and both of them have done ‘miracles’ on the business side for our club. Ingla said that he would give socio’s a vote on should we consider taking a commercial shirt sponsor. I like a possible referendum as I don’t really see it passing a major vote.

    Anyway, Ingla and his team seem capable and hungry, maybe a little less hate towards Laporta (than Sandra) but still driven to take their former project even further. They are non-continuity candidates, which I like but have been founding fathers of the former project.

    I wonder how their relation is to PEP and how PEP sees their candidacy.

  17. Jnice
    May 26, 2010

    I’ve been reading different articles on Sport, EMD, and *http://barcaelections2010.blogspot.com/ and I find myself leaning more towards Ingla. Rossell is coming off as more shady and cocky by the day, to me at least. I get the feeling that he will try to have too much of a say in areas that should only be of Pep’s concern.

    Ingla seems like a good guy and he was behind some of Laporta’s major decisions in the past. Idk, I feel he is the safer option right now. Rossell seems too much of an egomaniac. As for Ferrer, it seems as if he’s a bit weak and can’t think for himself.

  18. Kxevin
    May 26, 2010

    Looks like we’re about to be done with this Fabregas silliness and can get on with the task of actually strengthening our squad.

    In a press conference yesterday, Fabregas said that he is putting his future in Wenger’s hands, and the rest is up to him. Anyone who honestly thinks that Wenger is going to sell the player who gives Arsenal the best shot at winning silver next season is crazy.

    Press are of course interpreting Fabregas’ remarks about being so loved, etc, as a farewell bonbon, or proof that he is going to stay. Take your pick.

    Fabregas Sr. says respect the wishes of the player and let him go. Arsenal player Carlos Vela says that Fabregas is outta there. Fabregas, when asked if he could definitely say that he was going to be in Arsenal shirt next season, said “No.” Then he launched into the comments about great conversations, and leaving his future in the hands of Wenger.

    Clearly, the “No” answer is as close as you will ever come to hearing Fabregas directly confirm that he has asked for a transfer. But putting it in Wenger’s hands hedges his bets. Wenger will ask for the moon, not get it and say “See? They didn’t really want you.”

    Madness.

    • Hilal
      May 26, 2010

      I hope your right Kxevin, unfortunatley I have a feeling that Cesc is Barca bound for an amount of money that none of us would be particularly pleased about. I dont think we will pay 80 for him, but I dont think Arsenal will demand that sum of money, i think we will end up getting him for around 50m – which is still ludicrous.

      Too many ppl close to Cesc are saying he wants to leave, his father coming out to the press is a huge indication. I also think that when he says he is “leaving it in Wengers hands” he is saying he has trust in Wenger, he has made his position that he wants to leave clear and that he is leaving it up to Wenger to make it so. I do not believe that Wenger will try and keep a player against his will, he has never really done so in the past and I dont see him starting now, especially with a player he is obviously so close to…

    • Ramzi
      May 26, 2010

      Arsenal fans are getting crazy already.

      My opinion about Cesc transfer is known. But I think it is better if we end up signing him today. Why? Simple: Because we will have to deal with the same annoying whining after world cup. Here is the Slogan:”New Barcelona president want to introduce his reign by signing Cesc” . It doesn’t happen but worry not:”Now that the EPL is approaching, Wenger ask Cesc to stay till the winter transfer period. Barca will try again to bring its Xmass gift”. Doesnt work…Following Summer:”Deal done!” no it didnt.

      20 years from now: my nephew screaming while running toward my house. Jump in my arms chanting:”Grand Pa! Cesc will coach Barca next season!”

      I say, if we have no choice but to take that tablet, then let it be! N.O.W.

      • Jnice
        May 26, 2010

        Arsenal fans are getting crazy already.

        Yeah, it’s ridiculous.

    • Kari
      May 26, 2010

      SOMEBODY MAKE IT STOP! JUST PLEASE, MAKE.IT.STOP.

      • peter
        November 14, 2010

        hello my is nworgu peter
        am a player Nigeria 18y i did well in my club in Nigeria and i want to play in Barcelona i love Barcelona so i will happy if u can help me

  19. Tom
    May 26, 2010

    Does anyone know if Barcelona is playing in the US this summer?

    • Kari
      May 26, 2010

      Nope. They’re going to Asia this year.

  20. fcbfan
    May 26, 2010

    Will Cesc take a paycut? like Chiggy did to help the cost.

  21. Cesc Pistol
    May 26, 2010

    Woah. That’s one film I saw long, long ago. It reminded me that Laporta didn’t know much about the sporting side of things when he started and basically took guidance from Cruyff. And mmostly because Cruyff was supporting the new project, they won. But Rosell had a huge problem with the way Cruyff wanted to do dealings and was the chief reason why he left.

    Personally, I would never vote for Rosell as the club in the last 7 years has been built on the foundations guided by Cruyff. The chief thing that made him leave. The reason why we are so successful. I can only see him trying to undermine years of work for his own ego.

  22. ElShowDeJason
    May 26, 2010

    according to goal.com our our other Kidnapped Youth product was just sold to Atleti by Arsenal. (Fran Merida)

    • ElShowDeJason
      May 26, 2010

      //http://www.goal.com/en/news/11/transfer-zone/2010/05/23/1939072/official-atletico-madrid-sign-fran-merida-from-arsenal

      and by sold, I meant, free transfer.
      he didn’t want to re-sign for Arsenal.
      serves them right!

  23. AussieGooner
    May 26, 2010

    Messi has Newell’s Old Boys DNA. Sorry about that.

    • Jnice
      May 26, 2010

      True.

      In that case, it’s even worse how they sat and watched while one of their own suffered without treatment.

      • Ramzi
        May 26, 2010

        We should have left him living in Poverty with his body collapsing rather than meeting HIS (and his Argentinian club -for the record) wish to save him.

        How Evil we are. Still, when Messi say he wants to leave. I will book his ticket anywhere he likes. “Stay if you won’t, leave if you don’t” thats my motto. If he expect to make me whine complaining that someone is screwing his mind, he is wrong. We raised a man. We deal with him as a man.

        • Ramzi
          May 26, 2010

          *“Stay if you want, leave if you don’t” 😀

          • Helge
            May 26, 2010

            Hey, why did you correct it? The first one was a better rhime 😉

    • ElShowDeJason
      May 26, 2010

      That was fresh and original. Thank you for that, we had never heard that.

      When Messi demands a move back to Newell’s, I’ll start worrying.

  24. Sid
    May 26, 2010

    Why dont we have any strong man candidates ? So many lower clubs have such strong presidents ( Sevilla, Atletico madrid, Lyon, Valencia, Mallorca etc.)

  25. Hilal
    May 26, 2010

    I dont see what all these Arsenal fans are on about. Pretty much all the noise is coming from Cesc and his camp – not Barca. This all started a few weeks ago when Cesc basically made a very public invitation for Barca to come get him. This was then followed by a meeting Cesc chose to have with Wenger (which only Cesc and his entourage could have leaked) and then press releases by his father, some of his current team mates and most recently the man himself. Nobody is forcing him to do these things or brainwashing him. If Cesc wants to leave then that is his choice, stop acting like Barca somehow coaxed him into his desire to return. Its sad and its desperate.

    If Arsenal fans want to blame anyone they need to look first at Wenger and the Arsenal board. If they had satisfied Cesc’s desire to win, by making serious moves in the market and buying some top class, EXPERIENCED players then maybe Cesc wouldnt be begging to leave.

    As it stand Arsenals ambitions extend to Chamkh (on a free nontheless) so really, who can blame Cesc for wanting leave. He gave you 5 years of wonderful football, be happy that he lasted this long. If it was up to me you would keep him for a few more years, but its not up to me..

  26. Stephen
    May 26, 2010

    Thanks Isaiah for posting this, it really gets us up close and personal. I also like to know more about the club I follow so close and hold dear to my heart 🙂

  27. ElShowDeJason
    May 26, 2010

    I’m so bored at work, and it is such a slow news day.
    I swear to you that I just spent 5 minutes of my life reading an article on SPORT about Pedro’s squad number for Spain. :-/

    • ElShowDeJason
      May 26, 2010

      another 5 on EMD reading about how Spain’s 23 will not be allowed to use an social networking util after the world cup.
      Barcelona’s players were singled out as the most affected, espcially Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta.

  28. ElShowDeJason
    May 26, 2010

    Sport’s daily political cartoon

    //http://www.sport.es/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=44&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=716781&idseccio_PK=800

    I don’t believe it requires a translation, but just in case:

    “This is the amount Arsenal want for Cesc: 90.000.000 million Euros”
    “And this is the amount if Hleb would be included in the transger: 89.999.999 million Euros”
    cesc: “Well, a Euro is a Euro”

  29. Tutomate
    May 26, 2010

    If Laporta could run again that would be AWSOME.

  30. Eklavya
    May 26, 2010

    Isaiah what is the news on the background picture thing? What happened to all those pics we sent you??

  31. Cesc Blanc
    May 26, 2010

    I had watched the documentary years ago when it came out, watched it again 3 years ago and now another team.
    As we can see, all big and great ideas the club had, like new members, new ways of marketing, and a reasonable and calm approach to everything came from Marc Ingla and Ferran Soriano.
    Rosell doesn’t sound like a douche to me but more like a loser and pretty bad in being firm and making decisions. I don’t think that he is a bad guy, he would just be a terrible president.
    However, no one is worse and more pathetic than Jaume Ferrer. The guy complaining that “we just feel like numbers” is him. I would pretty much prefer Sandro over him as president.
    Laporta doesn’t come away that good either to me. He seems too much like a camera loving and celebrity loving guy and I really think that he was the best president we ever had and wouldn’t change him for anyone, but still, I wouldn’t like to have a cup of coffee with him to be honest.
    I really really hope that Ingla somehow wins. By far the best candidate, by far the best team plus the only one who could guarantee stability and keeping what the real model was about.

  32. ballbeav
    May 26, 2010

    it’s official: pellegrini is fired by the evil empire. i cant wait til mourinho cant win there either, then they fire him and have to hire my gramma cos shes the only one left.

    mourinho couldnt win the CL at chelsea even with all that money, he aint gonna do it again. inter was the last gasp for him, the football gods and goddesses wont allow anymore, anyway.

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