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And then there were four.
With the Barcelona presidential elections less than two weeks away, the pool of candidates has shrunk from nine to just four names: Joan Laporta, Victor font, Toni Freixa spirit Emili rousaud.
In the midst of a pandemic, with debts running into the hundreds of millions and the club’s best player about to go free … who are the four men looking to take on possibly the toughest gig in football right now?
Slogan: Estimem el Barça (We Love Barça)
Key selling points: Past success, relationship with Messi and La Masia
Laporta appears as the great favorite before the vote, having submitted 10,257 signatures of Barça partners to qualify for the presidential race. The mandatory minimum was 2,257, while no other candidate received more than 5,000.
Laporta, a cheeky character with a history in Catalan politics, is easy to sell for most Barça fans. He knows the club and indeed presided over much of the recent success, having been president between 2003 and 2010, a period in which the club won four La Liga titles, two Champions League titles and the Copa del Rey.
His candidacy also dates back to an era of self-reliance, when La Masia and Cruyff’s ingrained DNA could produce all the superstars the club would need.
He has promised a makeover of the famous Barça academy if elected, even co-opting Liverpool’s motto “you will never walk alone”.
However, that perception of an academy purist might be a bit off the mark and he is also known to have close ties to ‘super-agents’ like Mino Raiola. Laporta once bet his 2003 campaign on the signing of David Beckham, which of course did not happen.
Unafraid of a publicity stunt, he made headlines in December with a banner of his face at the height of a story along with the message ‘Hope to see you’ at the Bernabéu.
Motto: Yes to the Future (Yes to the future)
Key selling points: Relationship with Xavi, business realism
After Laporta, the second with the most signatures (just over 4,700) is Víctor Font, CEO of a venture capital firm and a long-time Barça partner.
At the forefront of Font’s campaign are the names he has lined up to work alongside him, especially promising that Xavi Hernández will be involved with the club ‘from day one’ if he wins.
A shared organization chart from the end of December showed Xavi as ‘CEO’ while Jordi Cruyff was named ‘sports director’. Somewhat embarrassingly, Cruyff, who is currently the head coach of Shenzen FC, quickly downplayed his involvement in the plans.
Font has also promised more roles for women on his board.
He is also a pro Messi who remains at the club, and said last month that he is “convinced” that he can get the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay at Camp Nou. The return of Neymar, however, is not a priority for Font.
Referring to the club’s economic crisis, Font’s campaign website talks about implementing a plan to balance the books this season for its first 100 days, before rolling over the pile of debt over the summer with the ultimate goal of keeping the club in the hands of its members and not turning it into a PLC.
Font has also proposed to bring back the charity UNICEF as the club’s main shirt sponsor.
Slogan: Fidels al Barça (Loyal to Barça)
Key Selling Points – Get to know the club, plan for fan engagement
A member of the Barcelona board of the last three presidents, Freixa is a lawyer by profession, finishing last in the 2015 elections with just 3.7% of the vote. This time he is unfazed, despite claims that his candidacy represents more of the same in a system gone wrong.
Freixa -who is a regular on Spanish television when it comes to Barça- has insisted that it is different from its predecessors, while its website bets on La Masia, as well as on the objective of filling the Camp Nou every week with an involvement added from the hobby. in making decisions.
Unlike Laporta, Freixa does not To die politics, claiming they don’t have a place in football.
He has also been reserved on the burning issue of Messi, although less on Neymar. Freixa has described the Brazilian who left Barça in 2017 as “not one of the 30 best players in Europe.”
He’s also committed to keeping manager Ronald Koeman in his place for now.
Slogan: Els Millors, to Barça! (The best, at Barça!)
Key selling points: business experience, meet the club
The last and probably least likely is Rousaud, a former vice president of Josep Maria Bartomeu who might have been a safer bet if things had not gone so well with the former leader.
Rousaud resigned in April last year, after just three months as vice president, following the infamous ‘Barçagate’ scandal.
A successful businessman with a company with a turnover of hundreds of millions, Rousaud’s financial background and experience at the club may be seen as pluses by some, although some of his campaign speeches have turned fanciful.
He has proposed naming the Camp Nou in honor of Messi, while suggesting that the Argentine should accept a pay cut on his “unsustainable” salary.
He is also in favor of the return of Neymar Yes The PSG player withdraws his claim against Barça.
Like the rest of the candidates, he has insisted that La Masia is a key pillar of the future. However, their website He also claims that he already has a new technical director (‘the best in the world’) who, in turn, is in contact with ‘two world mega stars’.