Sandro Rosell's resignation as Barcelona president on Thursday evening, amid a court investigation into the “misappropriation” of millions of euros during Neymar's transfer to the club last summer, unsurprisingly dominated the Spanish and Catalan press on Friday morning.
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Marca’s cover summed up the reaction -- “Rosell flees, the scandal goes on” -- pointing out that he was just the “first victim” of the “Neymar case.”
Elsewhere, the front page of the Madrid-supporting AS recalled that many questions still remain by saying “Rosell resigns without explaining why” over a photo of the former Blaugrana chief leaving the stage while his successor Josep Maria Bartomeu applauded.
Inside, AS editor Alfredo Relano listed the questions he -- and presumably the Spanish judge investigating the possible “diversion” of monies in the transfer -- would like answered: “How much did Neymar cost? In what form? How much was the transfer, how much was for the player, for his father? How much remains in a grey area where other hands can pilfer it? These are the doubts and [Rosell] did not enter into any of them.”
El Pais’ long-serving Barca correspondent Ramon Besa mused on the irony that by doing “everything” to sign Neymar, in what was supposed to be the crowning achievement of his regime, Rosell had actually brought about his downfall.
“An emphatic victory which in June was the signing of the Brazilian, chased by other clubs, especially by [Real] Madrid, has become a cruel defeat for the Azulgrana chief,” Besa wrote. “Powerful as vice-president, in opposition and as a candidate, [Rosell] did not know how to act as president of the institution.”
El Mundo -- who made the revelation on Monday that as much as 95 million euros changed hands in the Neymar deal -- pointed out that Bartomeu “also signed some of the ‘irregular’ contracts between Barca and the No. 11” so the club’s problems have not ended just because Rosell is now gone.
The reaction in the Catalan press was -- as expected -- more mixed, with criticism and bafflement, alongside a feeling in some quarters that “their man” had been unfairly targeted by jealous rivals in the Spanish capital.
La Vanguardia -- who on Thursday morning had broken the story that Rosell would step down -- went with “Rosell throws in the towel” on its cover, while Sport said “Rosell Abandons Ship” with “Neymargate Provokes His Resignation” as the sub-heading.
It was left to Mundo Deportivo -- the paper who has been closest to the Rosell regime over recent years -- to offer at least some support to the departing president. Its cover said “Rosell Resigns” while repeating his claims that he was leaving to protect the image of club, as his family had been threatened and because “hostile forces” had used the transfer against him.
Mundo Deportivo’s director Santi Nolla wrote in his editorial that “Rosell took yesterday a responsible decision. It was not easy and, for sure, untypical. In a world where nobody resigns, the president has left so as not to damage the club in a court case which is expected to be long, brought about by an 'activist' socio.”