Football: Mes Que Un…

As you walk through the entrance, and make your way pitch-side, you are standing at the iconic home of Barcelona, Camp Nou, where a message is looking back at you…Mes Que Un Club – More than a club. Barcelona has a tradition of being the main focal point of the Catalan people, and a symbol of the city of Barcelona itself. For many decades, the message displayed for all to see was etched not only into the seating of this colosseum for football, but into the foundation of the club itself.

So, what is happening now?

First, the board of directors (let’s think of them as the aunts and uncles), including club president, Bartomeu (the father), announce that the entire team is up for sale, apart from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet, Frankie De Jong and Lionel Messi. The latter (the most loved son) puts in a transfer request to leave, after seeing his brothers being forced out after the 8-2 mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich. Like a typical father, Bartomeu decided that it wasn’t his fault that the kids weren’t doing well, but their own, so he wants new kids that might love him more.

Since then, Messi and Barcelona have had a falling out, which resulted in Messi staying in order to avoid legal issues, Arthur, 24, went to Juventus, with 30 year old Pjanic coming the other way, Arda Turan returned home to Galatasaray, Rakitic went back to Sevilla for €1.5 million, and Vidal to Inter Milan for even less. These dealings can be described as peculiar at best. Even in a world with such issues as we have now, such players are worth more than what they’ve been sold for. Then again, guess every family has the odd fire sale to get rid of unwanted items.

The latest instalment in the Barcelona transfer policy saw the incredible situation surrounding Luis Suarez and the move to Juventus, which didn’t materialise. The rule in Italy is strange, but the basics are that in order to avoid taking up one of the three spots reserved for non-EU players Suarez had to secure an Italian passport (an opportunity given to him because his wife has Italian ancestry). In order to achieve that, he had to take and pass a test in Italian, which he did. An unbelievable achievement when you consider that he can’t actually speak Italian. The University for Foreigners (not a typo), in Perugia, is now under investigation, and the transfer fell through.

So… the Uruguayan had to look elsewhere, and agreed terms with Atletico Madrid which was probably not listed as one of the clubs he couldn’t go to. However, Bartomeu blocked the move after presumably realising it should have been on the list. Suarez’s representatives threatened to reveal information about Bartomeu and Barca, so “dad” backed down, and let one of his unwanted “sons” go to a rival.

Most families have fall outs, but then make up afterwards. Unfortunately, for that to happen, the paternal figure has to be more understanding. Whether in life, sport, or business, being in a position of power is not for everyone, and eventually, such people will always be found out, as Bartomeu is now realising.

It is only a matter of time before dad has to leave the house, and sleep somewhere else, especially when, not if, the favourite son decides to leave the nest, and settle elsewhere…


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