Sandro Rosell confirms resignation
Sandro Rosell is resigning as Barcelona's president, a day after a judge agreed to hear a lawsuit accusing him of allegedly hiding the cost to acquire Brazilian forward Neymar.
Rosell said current vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu will take the top role at the Camp Nou through 2016, by agreement of the board of directors.
"I am resigning irrevocably," Rosell told reporters.
Barca and Rosell have so far always maintained that they paid "just" 57 million euros to sign Neymar from Santos in the summer, while others suggest the deal was for as much as 95 million euros and the player and his family have received 51 million euros in various fees and commissions.
The issue became increasingly serious this week after it was confirmed that a Madrid court had accepted a petition from Barca socio Jordi Cases to look into the transfer, launching a formal investigation amid claims that different versions of the contracts involved exist.
"I have always said that the signing of Neymar is correct and has sparked jealousy," Rosell said on Thursday. "This board (of directors) is a team and this team leads a project that has been successful. My stage is over and I am presenting my resignation to the board. Bartomeu will be in charge of the presidency as the board has voted unanimously. I wish him the best and I ask you to support him."
Rosell added: “In recent days an unfair and reckless accusation of misappropriation has resulted in a lawsuit against me in the Audiencia Nacional.
“From the beginning I have said that the signing of Neymar Junior has been correct and his signing has caused despair and envy in some of our adversaries.
“The right of the club members to be informed needs to be compatible with the defence of the club and confidentiality of certain matters and facts. This confidentiality is essential in the world of football because otherwise the club could be damaged.
“The board of directors is a team. And this team leads a project that has brought the club great success. I don't want unfair attacks to negatively affect their management or the image of the club. This is why I think my time here has come to an end.
“Now, in accordance with the club's statutes, I have presented my irrevocable resignation of the presidency of FC Barcelona to the board of directors.”
Rosell said he had enjoyed many triumphs and tragedies at the Spanish giants but admitted this latest scandal had led to his family receiving threats and personal attacks.
“In these four years we have enjoyed and suffered because we are Barcelonistas, just as many generations of Blaugranas have enjoyed and suffered for more than a century.
“In all of these years we have seen that our successes are the result of our victories on the pitch and overcoming innumerable obstacles off the pitch: political, external and, what's worse, at times the pressure has come from our own environment.
“But this period of success has also brought us very difficult moments. For some time my family and myself have suffered threats and attacks in silence. These threats and attacks have made me wonder if being president means having to jeopardise my family.”
Bartomeu told the media he will hold a news conference on Friday to reveal details about the future and added: "We are going to be very firm in the defence and demand the utmost respect for our club."
There is no suggestion that any Blaugrana executive personally benefited from the complex Neymar deal, but Rosell and other club executives could potentially be called to testify in a Madrid court, and tax authorities in Spain and Brazil are likely to be following the proceedings closely.
Rosell was elected president by the club members in 2010 after Joan Laporta served two consecutive terms. He was expected to run for reflection in 2016. The last president to resign from Barcelona was Joan Gaspart in 2003.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.