Today, new Barcelona FC president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, denied that naming rights for a redeveloped Camp Nou Stadium have already been sold to the club’s financial partner, Qatar.
Former Barcelona presidential candidate Agusti Benedito stated he had evidence the club's redevelopment plans had been orchestrated in association with Qatar. The current president disagreed. “Qatar is not behind the reform. “We don’t want the same sponsor to pay for so many assets. It’s better to diversify,” said Bartomeu.
The potentially refurbished stadium, the new home to Neymar and Messi, will be such only after a Yea vote by the members of the club later this week.
Yesterday evening, at a press conference, new Barcelona FC president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, defended the club's international transfer of minors stand in relation to FIFA's announced 14 month tranfer ban, without addressing the issues. He did say the club would appeal the ban, though.
He stated that the club agreed with the protection of minors in sports that FIFA's rules lay out and insisted that the club has a similar philosophy in its dealing with underage players. He also stressed that the Masia,the fabled youth football academy, is a world wide reference point for the development of young players. Nevertheless he did not refute the multiple allegations against Barca that are spelled out in the ten player transfer regulation violations FIFA states the club committed over a five year period.
The ban and Barca's response come on the heels of the release of the FIFA Transfer Matching System reports BIG 5: Transfer Window Analysis, and Global Transfer Market 2014. The Big 5 report provides statistics about player transfers in Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France while the Global one reports on every official transfer that occurred last year.
It will be interesting to follow how Barcelona's appeal plays out.
Meanwhile, today, Real Madrid vice-president Pedro Lopez Jimenez felt the need, at a press conference, to deny that his club had anything to do with the transfer ban imposed by FIFA upon Barcelona for breaking the youth transfer regulations. "Not Real Madrid, nor me myself, as a member of FIFA, have had anything to do with the punishment which Barcelona have suffered," said Lopez.
In January of this year one of the most important transfers of the past decade took place when Brazilian club Santos transferred Neymar to Barcelona for 57 million Euros. Only the cost of the transfer, as investigated by the Spanish courts, generated an additional 11-12 million Euros in back taxes for the club. Taxes paid after the club had paid the taxes warranted by its stated expenditure.
The unexplained nature of the finances that brought the highly sought prodigy to Barcelona instead of to rivals Real Madrid, who until the last minute seemed to have the inside track on obtaining his services, have not yet been fully scrutinized. Then Barca club president, Sandro Rosell, had to resign under the pressure of charges of fraud, but at his resignation he stated he was leaving because: "I don't want unfair attacks to negatively affect the image of the Club."
It is interesting to note that if 13-year old Lionel Messi's transfer from Argentina to Barcelona had taken place under the new FIFA guidelines, he would have been obtained in violation of those regulations.
Asked about the transfer controversy recently Barcelona coach, Tata Martino, said: "Neymar transfer controversy? I don't know much about that. I manage a team that focuses on playing football."
Nou Espai Barca
On Saturday, Barcelona FC's official members will be voting Yea or Nay on a referendum to build the Nou Espai Barca. The multibillion dollar renovation, financed in part by the club's financial partners, entails refurbishing the Camp Nou football stadium and the indoor stadium that houses basketball, hockey, handball, and other events, known as the Palau Blaugrana. The referendum also bundles, in its up or down vote, other improvements to the many installations that comprise the Barca complex.
The nearly 120,000 members of the club will have one 12-hour day to go to the club in person, present appropriate valid ID, and vote to approve the plan or send the directors back to the drawing board. The new football stadium is being built in response to the club's needs to keep in lock step with many of Barca's rivals who now own more updated state of the art facilities, such as the Bernabeu.
As the vote approaches the current club administration is eager to have the Yea vote win out and have spent over a million euros in promotions to obtain that result. Bartomeu called the unprecedented outreach "an information campaign" while Benedito labeled the communication “propaganda.”
Once the vote takes place we may have a newly named stadium in which to watch Messi and Neymar focus.