Joan Laporta calls on Barcelona board to resign, offers to stand for election
Joan Laporta says he would fight Josep Maria Bartomeu for the Barcelona presidency if an election was to be held in the immediate future, and called on the current board to resign in comments to The Guardian.
Laporta was Barca president for seven years between 2003 and 2010 and was responsible for the appointment of Pep Guardiola in 2008.
Sandro Rosell replaced him in 2010, but he was forced to resign less than four years later over the signing of Neymar from Santos and was subsequently succeeded by current president Bartomeu.
"If [the board] resigned now, I'd definitely stand [for election]," said Laporta, who lost to Bartomeu in the 2015 election after Barca had won the Treble. "The problem is [the current board's mandate] ends in 2021. If they went now, I'd stand. But if they continue for three, four years, I don't think so.
"We all have our moment. Right now, it's still fresh to me, but if it goes on longer, I'd like a candidate I can look at and think: 'Yes, this is the one.' Renewal's always necessary. I'd like someone with clear ideas, a model I can share, a person I can trust."
Laporta has always been clear that he cannot trust the current board, who took him to court for alleged losses during his mandate -- he was exonerated in May.
"We left [Rosell, Bartomeu, etc] the greatest Barca in the club's history and they spent their time destroying it," he added, citing the Neymar transfer and the sponsorship deal with Qatar as reasons for concern.
"Barcelona has been kidnapped. It's hostage to the intoxication, manipulation and lies [of this board] and it's sad. I'm demanding they resign. If they had any shame they'd resign; if they had any shame, they'd have gone when they did a deal with the public prosecutor to make the club, not them, liable in the Neymar case."
Agusti Benedito, another candidate in the 2015 election, is also calling for the board to resign and last week lodged a vote of no confidence against them.
To take the vote of no confidence to the next stage, Benedito needs the support of 15 percent of the club's members within 14 days, which he estimates is around 16,500 people.
As of Thursday, he said he had just under 6,000 signatures and called on Laporta to help raise awareness of the matter.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.