To pass the time before our review is up and to clear the air over all of this, we are reporting both the official FC Barcelona statement about yesterday’s travel issues as well as President Rosell’s letter to supporters regarding the situation. It appears to me that the blame lies with RFEF and possibly the boards of both clubs, though this seems more to have been an issue where RFEF failed to communicate to anyone in a concise or fair manner. It appears we were told numerous incorrect things while waiting for the planes to become available and then as soon as the truth was made known, we boarded the train / bus as quickly as possible to make the match. I think comments about the players / coaches regarding them being snobs or elitists for only wanting to fly are unfair, as that was obviously not the case, and Pep was unamused by of all this yesterday in his presser after the game. Eventually, President Rosell takes the blame in the matter, and I am glad he has stepped up to say so, but this does not seem something that should fall to him, but to RFEF.
FC Barcelona Official Note
FC Barcelona wishes to make clear publically the full sequence of events which have occurred over the last few hours with regards to the CD Osasuna-FC Barcelona game.
1) Since yesterday evening, the club has been aware of the serious incidents which were occurring as a result of the Spanish air traffic controllers’ strike. In the light of these circumstances, Club President Sandro Rosell personally contacted the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) to explain the situation. Following various contacts with different Federation officials and heeding the recommendations of the Spanish Spanish Air Authorities (AENA), Sr Rosell decided to maintain the club’s original travel plans for the trip to Pamplona.
2) At 09.00 this morning the team reported to the Nou Camp to leave for Barcelona airport, but the travel plans were suspended awaiting further information from AENA, who regularly informed the club throughout the morning that the scheduled flight was being cancelled, but guaranteeing that another flight would be available at some point during the morning.
3) The club continued to maintain contact with the RFEF, who as a result of the exceptional circumstances informed the club that the game had been postponed and would take place tomorrow, Sunday, at 17.00. The club accepted this decision, although it affected negatively the preparations for Tuesday’s Champions League game against Rubin Kazan.
4) Following the decision by the RFEF, the club prepared another travel plan which involved taking a high speed train to Zaragoza at 17.00 and then taking a coach for the rest of the journey to Pamplona.
5) To the club’s great surprise, at about 15.00, the RFEF again contacted the club to inform us that despite their earlier decision, they had now decided that the game must go ahead today and that the team would risk forfeiting the three points if it failed to turn up. This note was also signed by the Spanish League (LFP).
6) FC Barcelona has expressed its indignation to the RFEF at the damage to the club’s sporting interests, its image and its supporters, as a result of the RFEF’s indecisiveness. The club accepted the decision to play the game today and set up an emergency travel plan which involved leaving by train an hour earlier than planned, at 16.00, with the intention of playing the game against CD Osasuna as soon as the team arrive in Pamplona.
Barcelona, 4 December 2010
President Rosell: Open Letter to Club Members and Supporters
Below we reproduce the open letter from Club President Sandro Rosell to the Club’s members and supporters.
Dear members and supporters of FC Barcelona,
The events which occurred on Saturday surrounding the match which the first team played in Pamplona demand a calm reflection. Firstly, I wish to publically congratulate our team and back room staff who once again showed that they are capable of turning the most serious problems into a challenge to be faced. The win in Pamplona has an extraordinary merit.
Over the last few hours, I have read and listened to all kinds of comments about the situation which occurred. We have been criticised for our lack of prevision and our communication strategy. In addition, our actions as a club in dealing with the problem have been questioned. I personally assume all responsibility for everything which happened before the game on Saturday. I had all the dealings with the RFEF and I accept full responsibility for everything that occurred as a result. I believed in the word of the Federation officials and of the representatives of AENA and, despite my mistakes I have always acted in the interests of the Barça above all. We will draw our conclusions from this experience for the future.
The members deposited their confidence in me to preside over the Club and this enormous responsibility obliges me to be self critical for the good of the Club. I accept and understand that my actions may be criticised, but I will not stand injustice. And it is unjust to accuse our executives and even our coach and the players of not wanting to travel to Pamplona unless it was by plane. That is absolutely untrue, unjust and unacceptable, since all the decisions in this matter were taken and/ or authorised personally by me. The professional attitude and commitment with which our staff and players faced up to the journey and the game in Pamplona, is the only thing which they should be judged on. I only have words of thanks and pride for them.
I would like to finish this letter by asking you all, now more than ever, to show your support and unity, which is very necessary right now. The challenges we face are formidable and we need the support of you all. More than any other consideration, the common interests of Barça have to be foremost at all times. That is and always will be my firm commitment and resolution.
President of FC Barcelona
Image: December 3, 2010 – Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images Europe