Rant time: If you go somewhere, Barca, you need to come correct!

So, there was a very interesting commentary on ESPN Soccernet about our recent visit to Korea, and how we, in effect, broke the toilets, insulted the host and left the party throwers unhappy.

I read that. I think they’re right. If you roll into a country as an ambassador of your club, you have your business correct. This means that there is stuff that you do and don’t do.

–In other words, you know who’s going to play and what the contract stipulates about who’s going to play.
–You DON’T confuse North and South Korea.
–You don’t have your star player in effect say “Wherever in the hell this is. Whatevs. I’m too tired from frolicking with dolphins and stuff while on vacation.”

That’s a king-sized dose of Not Cool. I wouldn’t ask us back, frankly. Some might say “Good. Less long travel,” but that area of the world is an immense, untapped revenue stream. If we get in there, it means potentially millions of shirt sales, new socis (provided Rosell lets such things happen), etc.

Clubs do tours such as that for business. We netted a cool 2 million from that match, a total that would have been 200,000 light, had Messi not taken part for his goal-laden cameo. It’s business that helps the club, helps us have the kind of international profile that enables our farm to continue drawing talented players from around the world, and it’s just flat-out cool.

It vexes me mightily to see our players acting like the high-and-mighty blokes that people accuse us of being. It’s why I scoff at the notion that there is a collective, club-wide effort to do something like “unsettle” Cesc Fabregas. We can’t even be bothered to, on the plane ride over, say “Okay, we’re going to South Korea. Journalists are going to ask, and here’s who they played in the World Cup. This country matters as long as you’re here. Let’s act like it does.”

Do players have a right to speak their minds? Yes. Do they have a right to act as though they are not part of a collective that is FC Barcelona, an entity that is beholden to fans, socis, board members and supporters around the world? Hell, no. Yes. Messi is tired. But he isn’t tired from the World Cup. He’s tired from a nice, loooong vacation, a loooong flight and the psychic burden of wrestling with failure. Is that South Korea’s fault? Smile, make pretty and have a club handler fill you in on how the hell to act.

I think that ESPN’s suggestion that we are culpable for the organizing firm not making sure World Cup stars were going to be on the tour is another matter altogether. We aren’t. It would have been easy enough to make those queries and arrangements when booking the tour, and plan accordingly. Not our fault. Some might suggest that we should have checked with Xavi, Iniesta and Villa, since it is our tour, to ensure that they were there. I disagree. We have the responsibility to make sure that the club is in the best shape for the coming season. If that means that Xavi, Villa and Iniesta get an extra-long vacation, so be it. But if they had decided to report in time for this tour, they, as the people who did appear, would have had to have come correct.

Should Messi have played? Not if Guardiola didn’t want him to. Period. He knows his squad. The sporting director of the club shouldn’t have to intervene in a situation to keep hosts of a friendly happy. That train has already left the station. Again, we should have been on the same page. You can’t tell a coach that he has to play someone vital to the long-term success of his team. First you sell his chosen center back without his full acquiescence, then this. If you were writing a handbook about how to run a successful coach out of town, these would be the first two chapters.

More irritants: Del Bosque can go to hell. ZubiZa is right in calling nonsense on the call-up of the 7 Barca players who also participated in the World Cup for a nonsense friendly against Mexico, three days before our Copa defense against Sevilla. His excuse that the club didn’t ask for those players to be held out is nonsense. They’re still on vacation, you dour-faced fool. And Mexico called up Jonathan Dos Santos for the friendly as well, because why not? Let’s make sure that ALL of Barca’s midfielders are tired. The players are not going to ignore the call-up, and they can’t very well claim injuries from being on vacation.

My guess is that Del Bosque will play them, but not for very long. The bit of action might be a good thing, to shake out the cobwebs before they start kicking balls in actual anger. At some point it comes down to club vs country, and the right of a club to control its players. Country pays a player’s heart, club pays a player’s bills. Most players are thrilled to represent their country, and I’m sure that Spain’s players are. But this is a friendly. Give them a break. Please. Yes, qualifications for Euro 2012 begin in September, against powerhouse Liechtenstein. I assume Del Bosque wants to make sure the side is in tip-top shape for that intense test.

And that’s what I know.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, Iโ€™m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, Iโ€™m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Hear, hear…Altough I am willing to forgive Messi. If a person is too tired to know where he is, then maybe you shouldn’t put have put him on a plane to Korea to begin with. If two extra WC matches bought Xavi and co. an extra long vacation, then Leo should have had one too. He was only carrying the weight of Argentina’s WC aspirations on his shoulders after all.

  2. Actually…now that I think of it. Why fly all the way over to the Far East to begin with? I am pretty sure most shirts sold over there are knock-offs? (at least here in South America they are, unless I want to spend 2 weeks of salary on a T-shirt). Is the commercial interest of breaking into the Asian market more important then our season? And wouldn’t it be better breaking into said market by obtaining success in Liga and CL instead of sending our squad out on meaningless friendlies on the other side of the world? During a WC summer, at that?

  3. “powerhouse Liechtenstein”
    ROFL, that alone was wroth it, who cares about the snobby Koreans as well, Barca needs to concentrate on China and India, how many live in Kore anyway?

    1. For the sake of the players and our sanity, I wish they steer clear of India for a decade or so..

    2. >>for the sake of sanity

      that is a good one Vj! ๐Ÿ™‚

      but, I think the Indian landscape is changing – the emerging young generation is already asking uncomfortable questions about the boring sh*t called cr*cket! I cant wait for the day when football will rule here.

      a boy can dream. can’t he?

  4. I think we’re pretty lucky that we don’t have a set of prima donnas who would whinge and dig in their heels against such ridiculous timetabling ( both Barca and Spain here).

    How hard would it have been for the Spanish FA to talk to Barca and say if spain win the WC what date will they be reporting back? For that matter did Barca not think of the “remote” possibility of Spain winning the WC when looking at where they were going preseason?

    At the very least let’s have a less than watertight contract which enables a bit of common sense. I hope for everyone’s sake nothing bad comes of these meaningless games.

  5. There’s no excuse for Dani, but that’s about as sorry as I am.

    I understand the fans and the disappointment–heck, I’ve been in the similar situation before– but they were playing FC Barcelona, not FC Lionel Messi. Abidal, Keita, Ibra, Maxwell, Dani all still played.

    We played in Norway with essentially the same squad (-Cuddly and FF and + Dani and Messi), and did they make a huge fuss and threaten to cancel the friendly? No. They knew what to expect and come out in droves. The same as the Wembley Cup after Euro 2008.

    I get that they wanted to see Leo Messi, the best player in the world, but it’s pre-season! What big club fields their strongest XI or anything close to it? Everyone knows that big clubs field their youth teamers plus some of the first teamers. I agree that our PR team is utter garbage, and should have done much, much better off the pitch.

    Promoters do anything to sell tickets. Yes, we wanted the money–what big club doesn’t?– but it isn’t our fault that they advertised and promised something that was, essentially, unattainable. Is it our fault they advertised the likes Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Puyol, Villa when it’s a WC year?

    Barca organizers were stupid to do an Asian tour so soon after the WC. Then again, if we went to the US, would the people have made a similar fuss? I dunno, but I think they definitely would have been more understanding.

    I know it’s an ‘untapped market’ and all that jazz but Man UTD pull this crap all the time and fans and press don’t say anything. Why? Because they have a better PR team, so they can get away with it.

    Pep and Messi, in all their honesty, should have just kept their mouths shut, smiled prettily for the camera, and went about their business.

    There’s more I want to rant about but I think that’s enough.

    1. i think club priorities come WELL before any marketing or sponsor priorities. if Messi wasn’t fit, it was dangerous to risk him regardless of how much it would have cost us out of the profits from that match. and not just dangerous to our chances but dangerous to the player, who is after all a human being who would be in real pain and discomfort were he injured due to playing while unfit. and if the Koreans or anyone else don’t like the fact that some of our guys are taking a vacation after WINNING THE WORLD CUP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR NATION’S HISTORY, they can kiss our collective asses. while no excuse for bad manners, the club’s interests come first guys, sorry. and the Spanish players deserve the time off, if only it were longer (thanks del Bosque).

  6. del Bosque’s madridista roots show again. there is absolutely NO reason to call up that many 1st-team players to begin with; give the youngsters a chance. one would think he’d know by now what Xavi, Busquets, etc. can do in a game of football… use the time to call up and evaluate some younger or less obvious players. scheduling a NT friendly 3 days before the Supercopa was a monumental piece of idiocy, but surely the Spanish FA assumed if they won the World Cup those players wouldn’t need to be there. and if i were our board of directors i’d refuse to release them.

    this does bring home how much strain has been put on Xavi, though*, who’s been playing football all year round for over 2 years now, since the Euros. the guy hasn’t had more than a month off at ANY point in that time, and del Bosque wants to cut into his holiday AFTER HE JUST HELPED WIN SPAIN THE WORLD CUP to make him fly halfway around the world for a meaningless friendly just before a big Cup game? shocking stuff.

    *and why we need to seriously be looking at midfield cover of a higher quality than our canteranos. say Xavi picks up an injury in Mexico, or gets fatigued (as we saw for parts of last season) for a few weeks at a time? he’s the best midfielder on the planet but he’s not Superman, and we’ve been (certainly del Bosque is now) treating him like that. we’d be down to 2 high-quality midfielders (1 of whom is not just the colour but also the consistency of paper), a *still* young and far from perfect DM, and cantera products. that’s just not enough for me, if we want to challenge for trophies. a versatile, quality midfielder accustomed to playing at a high level is a must-buy if we want the depth to do that and i’d be deeply disappointed if we didn’t make a purchase to that effect before the end of this window.

    1. in the spanish fa’s contract with this game against mexico they have a clause stating they have to field 60% or more of the team that played in the world cup

  7. incidentally, i’d prefer it if we called del Bosque “del Morsa” instead. much funnier and more apt.

  8. If you’re in a business, you also have to think about cost/benefit of things. Is it worth losing our best/star player for x amount of months for 2 mil? Is it our fault that organizers priced the tickets the amount they did? After all they want to make money too.

    It’s common sense to expect delivery of a product that is the least costly and the least risky to produce as long as it meets contractual guidelines, i.e. Barca B or C.

    And don’t get me started on that ESPN article. “Failed Asian Expectations?” after ONE game?! What? Does Korea represent all of Asia now? If so, why did we get such a good reception in China?


    I get this “hate on Barca because they’re so successful and everyone is doing it/ knock ’em to bring them down” thing is pretty popular right now, but come on. I mean, really.

    I’m sorry if I come of as pissy, but this really does strike a nerve.

    1. I know Kari, seriously. The club has brought some of it down on itself (mainly the result of election season), but a lot of people with pent up resentment have been having their jollies lately. What are you going to do, though? Seeing your team embarrassed by those frail “metrosexual” midgets who play in the “Scottish Premiership” of Continental Europe does tend to produce an emotional response–even months after the fact.

      And yeah, I’m specifically talking about some of the pathetic EPL bloggers on the ol’ Offside site.


    2. Was that some kind of veiled insult to my domestic football league here in Scotland?

      If so, I can only agree ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. So Argentina lets Messi not go for that stupid friendly, and Ibra is now going to Sweden?? Sweden… i mean.. w/e and then 7 Spanish players? Again Money, the game is in the USA after all.
    Acting high and mighty sort of makes us lose the “new” audience, some of us could get mooned by the barรงa squad and wouldnt mind in the least, the ‘new’ market doesnt find that too great. We could do better, I hope that in China they behave more properly.
    and that Messi played well, he showed up, scored twice (the second was beautiful) and I think they should be satisfied with that. More than satisfied.

  10. Del Bosque calls up 7 of our 8 players (was Valdes really necessary?! I mean really? Reina “injured” my butt.)

    JDS also for Mexico (there goes our midfield and our back-up Xavi) and Ibra for Sweden. Dani also has the possibility of being called up for Brazil, if he hasn’t already.

    Dammit. At least Abdial won’t be featuring for France.

    1. They can say no, cant they? I say they speak out, and not go! Who cares about those friendlies anyways.

  11. So, first Del Bosque uses the Barcelona team to bring glory to spain and himself, then takes the opportunity to run them to the ground afterwards and pave the way for further Real Madrid glory? GENIOUS.

    I’m honestly worried about the Barcelona team. I’m not sure if there is arrogance creeping in or just bad PR mis-steps. From how they behaved after losing to Inter, the fabregas saga, to these Korean stories, whats going on? Ive noticed players like Xavi’s interviews have gone from ‘we are humble and respect the team we are about to play’ to ‘this is a team barcelona should crush’. Now, I think us fans can be as arrogant as need be, but championship teams have to keep their feet firmly on the ground. Otherwise malaise creeps into the teams, and their demise follows. Thats the only thing that can ever derail this great team, when they lose their way and focus.

    As for Messi, poor guy finished the season with Barcelona, flew to argentina, flew around with them to friendlies all over, then flew to south africa. After a bad experience, he flew back to argentina, then to brazil for Deco’s event, then went on vacation, then back to barcelona, then went to Korea in all of 2 months…Thats tough on anyone, even those who dont play any sport while traveling this much.

    Im with Lev on this one…why schedule an asian tour in a world cup year? They could probably have made as much touring in europe, with less stress on the players, and then plan an Asian tour for next summer. Besides, I’n not sure La Liga has penetrated that market as well as the premier league. If Koreans really understood who Barcelona were, they wont treat them with such disdain.

    So, sport went from claiming that Guardiola didn’t want Ibra, to the team wants to sell Ibra, to Ibras agent wanted to move his client, and now they are claiming Ibra is selling himself to Milan? Very comical.

    1. Sport wants Ibrahimovic gone, because they want Villa leading the line …. they think he can, for some bizarre reason. Hence this stupid, stupid campaign. It will never end until the transfer window ends.

      Ibrahimovic would consider a return to Serie A an admission of failure. Going to a team that doesn’t have a chance of winning the Scudetto or Champions League would be even worse. Despite Galliani’s austerity measures, aimed at keeping down transfer fees and salaries, Sport insists that Milan is the place for Ibrahimovic.

      Stupid. So stupid.

      Even funnier are the “Yay! Fabregas is staying!” stories, as if there was ever a chance in hell that he was leaving. Sighhhh.

  12. EMD, though I am not sure how accurate it is, had a report of a looong meeting with our officials, Guardiola and the Korean event organizers about whether Messi would play. Madness. Simple madness. If Messi playing was worth 200,000, what would his getting injured for a long time had been worth?

  13. Barca sure been getting bad pr since Rosell took over. just saying.

    and VDB, wtf? even JDS is called up. pissed!

  14. One more, good job VDB. Busi being called up, who’s gonna play dm vs Sevilla? an chance we’ll sign a dm by next week?

    1. Just now seeing that, eh? I remember that from the ’06 World Cup blathering (it was posted in June 06 according to that link).

      I’m still having a debate with a friend who says they practice this stuff in real life. I don’t believe it. Any one else?

    2. They practice. Do they on the practice fields? No. but I can imagine in their rooms when theyre bored.

  15. I’m hugely disappointed by all this. I was upset enough when Rosell won the election. Then, Rosell sold Chygwimpy. Then, someone from the Board forces Pep to play Messi, and our players act like dbags. Now, Del Bosque calls up 7 of our players/starters. Oh, and we let both Henry and Marquez go for free. This sucks. We have/had the best roster in the world and the best coach. Now, we have a depth problem just like last year and those dumbass Board members are going to run Pep out of town. **** Rosell. Sometimes I wish I could run out onto the field and punch one of those BS referees (see Malaga) in the face. I still want to destroy the discipline board that ruled and upheld Pep’s fine for speaking the truth about the lying referees (see Almeria?). Now, I want to deck Rosell. Do I have anger issues? Yes. Is this guy ruining the greatest team ever? Yes.

    1. i also want to run out on the field and slide tackle some peoples faces. i think alves would join us by pulling out the shiv from his sock and sticking it into the nearest opposition player.

      i share your anger. this is just getting out of hand now. can we just start the season already?

    1. Aww, c’mon. He’s not that bad. I guess if you’re new to BFB his comments might come off as a bit blunt, but his rants are epic, and I wouldn’t say he’s a bad guy. Or a meanie who steals candies from babies.

      Anyone with an gravatar of a spectacled dude with a well-groomed mustache and a tap hat can’t be all that bad.

      It is said that men affect a tough exterior in order to mask an inner tenderness. I’m sure if you get to know Jose a bit better, you’ll see he’s just a big softie ๐Ÿ˜€

      Stay around long enough and you might even strike a friendship, redordead. You might even become limeandalive afterwards.

  16. Does anyone know when the U19 internationals return from vacation? I’m wondering if we’ll get to see Thiago and co in this preseason. Maybe during the Gamper?

    My biggest worry for the Spanish internationals is that someone gets injured because they are playing when not fit. They’ll basically have had no training time before the friendly. Hopefully Del Bosque only has them play a short amount of time.

    With regards to the Supercopa there are still a fair few players available. Messi, Bojan, Jeffren and Ibra play matches in Europe so they’ll be back with time to spare. Alves plays on the 10th in the US so he should be back in time.

    I doubt Iniesta will start. Maybe the line-up will look something like:

    Alves Milito Abidal Maxwell
    Adriano Messi Keita
    Jeffren Ibra Bojan

    Not the strongest line up, but not too shabby either.

    1. canales is back already… isn’t thiago?

      iniesta will beat sevilla with one foot tied to his back, del morsa knows what’s he’s doing ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Messi has been called up for the Ireland match


    I do not want to comment further.

  18. I reckon the Spanish FA will move the Seville tie to a later date.

    I was watching ESPN USA last night and I gotta say the commentator had no idea what he was talking about.
    They were discussing about Barca’s lack of depth at the back and one guy mentioned that we lost an important player in Chigwimpy. He clearly didn’t watch any Barca matches last season ๐Ÿ˜†

  19. I don’t know guys,but this was an embarrassing moment for the club.If there was an issue it should’ve been handled much more discretely.Also this has made us look like fools,regardless of wether the Koreans overreacted or the organizing firm messing up or whatever.I hope not,but this feels like an omen.

    And finally some food for thought…I know it’s early and all but I don’t remember any such episode taking place under Laporta’s leadership.He may have made irritating comments here or there, and he certainly rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but he was a strong leader and ran a tight ship. Rosell just seems weak and disconnected.Arsenal are sitting in their offices scratching their heads wondering why we’re not going after Cesc more agressively. He criticized Villa’s signing as overpriced (wonder how much it would have cost to buy the pichichi of the world cup after the tournament),he doesnt seem to be getting the job done with Cesc and we’re making fools of ourselves overseas. Not good Alexandre…not good

    1. its called inexperience from Rosell. First of all, he isn’t treating the presidency as a responsibility on behalf of everyone involved in the institute, its rather a position where he wants to benefit himself.

  20. totalbarca.com translated a Romeu interview. He seems to his head in the right place. I like. to have his head in**

    and interestingly, like Puyol, Pique and usi, he also started playing as a striker.

  21. Hmm South Korea were the hosts for this event, they should have planned the game better too. Even the security at the ground was poor, two streakers in one game.

    Barcelona weren’t treated as guests, they were treated like as if South Korean representatives owned us and told us to do this and that, and expect whatever from us. Ok we treated the situation poorly aswell, but in the end, its Barcelona’s choice if they want to re visit South Korea again.

    As with certain player attitudes. I think being a winning side they play under extreme pressure. More so than many other large clubs. When everyone is against you, there is no room for comfort. But Pep has built a team of winners, and the players play for motivation. When Pep describes the team, he describes them as humble and respectful people. But sport is sport and life is life, there will always be times when players have to express different sides of their personality, but we don’t see that irresponsibleness on the pitch, everything else is through the media and there is no getting away from it. But you have to respect what the players go through too.

    1. We can’t excuse them in this instance. “Understanding what the players go through” does not mean giving them license to be louts. They are representatives of the club. That’s part of that big-ass contract that they all sign. They should do it properly. The “job” of a player isn’t just on the pitch. Imagine how angry they would be if somebody was introducing Messi or Xavi and, through ignorance or assuming there’s only one big Spanish team in Europe, said they were stars for EE?

      Part of being professional means that stuff isn’t supposed to happen.

      And it isn’t just our choice if we want to visit S. Korea again. If the organizers don’t think that they’d have the ticket-buying support for such a venture, or if they think things are so soured that it isn’t worth the effort, we just won’t be asked back.

    2. good, they should come to Australia instead. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and situations become difficult again. South Korean representatives had equal responsibility to make this event as successful as Barcelona themselves.

  22. Look, I’m not a big fan of Rosell, but the decision to have an Asian pre-tour and the inital organization was Laporta’s and I think it was a really bad choice. It’s far enough away that it is difficult for players who come back from vacation or can’t make the entire tour (ex. Bojan, Jeffren, Thiago, Romeu) just can’t participate at all. Plus, there’s jet lag and when the players get back on the 9th they’ll be exhausted and have to leave right away for international friendlies.

    I also wonder why the Spanish players were given a month of holidays. I mean they certainly deserve it, but if it means that they end up having to play a match just back from holidays and get injured it won’t be worth it. Was it some kind of gamble that Del Bosque wouldn’t dare call them up if they were still on vacation? I’m not sure about Sevilla or Athletic but Real Madrid have had their Spanish players (World Cup and U19) back for a few days now.

  23. Alves will miss the China friendly. Flying tomorrow to Brazil friendly. This Asia tour is more a waste than anything.

  24. There is interesting research on fan behavior of Asians. Generally, it comes down to the fact that they don’t support teams for a long time but only for whatever period they feel right, while brand support if you like is more common in the US.

    if we’re thinking long term, we should really even more forget about Asia and visit the good old US of A instead.

  25. You cannot act like Dani Alves did, that’s not disputable.

    But for me, Lionel Messi’s words are okay. He simply stated the truth, and not some superficial bs like “Oh yeah, I LOVE this country, it’s so beautiful and the people are sooo nice”. Up Messi for being honest!

  26. Funny you say they should have ‘smiled’ because Messi actually WAS smiling when he said that, according to this pre-drama article:


    In a news conference at Mayfield Hotel in western Seoul, the FC Barcelona striker said, โ€œI feel extremely tired after a long flight.โ€
    With a smile on his face, he added, โ€œI slept over the entire flight. I canโ€™t even remember what time it is and where I am right now.โ€
    He was obviously exhausted and even caught yawning in his news conference.

    Looks to me like he wasn’t just moaning and he didn’t mean he literally didn’t know where he was, he was just light-heartedly explaining why he hadn’t seen enough of the country to have an impression of it yet.

    I notice none of the articles mentions the charitable events he and the club took part in either, or features the pictures of them smiling and interacting with the locals they supposedly had no time for.

    Seems the S. Korean media saw the controversies of the contract dispute and Alves’ faux pas and decided to broaden the story into Barca doing nothing but offending everyone from the moment they got there to the moment they left.

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