Hooray! We officially know who the four candidates for FC Barcelona’s presidential elections are: Josep Maria Bartomeu, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa, and Agusti Benedito. If you want to learn about the crazy and fun electoral process at Barcelona, you can read words I already wrote about it here.
The big news to come out of it today is that Benedito, the most obscure of the four candidates, has promised to return Arda Turan to Atlético de Madrid if he is elected. Now, as you know, the Turan transfer to Barcelona is fucking weird. It includes a clause in which whoever Barça’s new president is can return Arda to Atleti before July 20 and pay a 3.4 million euro penalty (10% of his transfer).
Benedito plans to execute this clause, and — in a delightful bit of trolling — bill Bartomeu for the penalty. Bartomeu was the president up until a few weeks ago, when he resigned to launch his candidacy. Though he technically didn’t sign Arda (it was the temporary board in charge of the club during the campaign), all the candidates assume that he operated behind the scenes to get the deal done.
The real interesting thing will be to see what Laporta does.
If you are to believe the rumors, Bartomeu tried to sign Paul Pogba but discovered that the player was already in bed with Laporta, given Laporta’s strong relationship with Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola. Laporta, Barça’s president from 2003 to 2010, previously worked with on the deal the brought Zlatan Ibrahimović to the club. Once Bartomeu saw that Pogba was impossible, he closed the deal with Arda.
But again, those are just rumors.
Anyway, here’s a quick update on what we know so far in the elections:
- The first debate was held two days ago. The most important thing that happened was that the incumbent, Bartomeu, decided to skip it. That’s was probably smart because he knows he’s no match for the charismatic and bombastic Laporta in that kind of setting. Still, it made him look like a coward, and rightly so. Laporta, predictably, came out guns blazing. He accused Freixa of being Bartomeu’s “submarine,” something like a trojan horse (Freixa and Bartomeu were both board members under Sandro Rosell, who succeeded Laporta as president in 2010). Laporta also slammed Bartomeu for trading the UNICEF sponsorship deal for one with the Qatari Government.
- Today there were some official announcements. Laporta announced that his candidacy is bringing on former Italian international Demetrio Albertini as “Director of Institutional Relations.” Freixa announced that his Sporting Director would be Jose Maria Bakero, who was one of the pillars of Barcelona’s “Dream Team” in the early 1990s.
This is all very insidery, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s as bitter and petty as a high school gossip war.