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Jan 24, 2014

Pressure on Barca chief after Rosell exit

Jordi Cases, the Barcelona fan who launched the legal action which has led Sandro Rosell to resign as blaugrana president, now has sights set on new club chief Josep Maria Bartomeu.

• Tomas: Rosell's resignation must bring election forward
• ‘Rosell flees’: Spanish press on exit

Rosell resigned on Thursday, with a Madrid court looking at the possible "diversion" of money during Neymar’s controversial signing for the Catalan club last summer.

That case was set in motion by disgruntled Barca socio Cases, who petitioned the court after the board refused to explain the transfer, in which up to 95 million euros could have changed hands, with more than half of this going to companies controlled by Neymar’s father.

Cases’ lawyer Felipe Izquierdo told Catalan station 8TV on Friday morning that Bartomeu, and vice-president Javier Faus, would also be caught up in the ongoing case.

“Rosell should have resigned before,” Izquierdo said. “Now we are going for Bartomeu. We are going to widen the demand to senores Bartomeu and Faus. We also have to speak about what happens with the rest of the board, who are also aware of all that has happened.”

Speaking at Thursday’s news conference after an emergency board meeting had accepted the need for a new head of the club’s hierarchy, Bartomeu was keen to stress continuity and how little would change with him in charge.

“My first action as president of FC Barcelona is to announce the continuity of the board’s project until 2016,” Bartomeu said. “We feel very strong. We were the most voted candidacy in the 2010 elections. We will continue to work toward, and employ, the values that have guided us. We have achieved a lot of goals in the past three years, but we still have a lot to accomplish. I ask the members of the club for their support. I want to encourage them to continue supporting the project that has brought us so much success and will bring us more success in the future.”

The engineer/businessman was the club’s director of basketball from 2003 to 2005 before resigning alongside Rosell due to differences with then president Joan Laporta and has been sporting vice-president at the Camp Nou since returning to power with Rosell in 2010. He said he would also continue to protect the club as the investigation into the Neymar deal went on.

“We will be very firm in our defence,” Bartomeu said. “We will demand the utmost respect for the club in all sporting, political and judicial aspects.” 

Meanwhile, FIFA’s Jerome Valcke has reacted to the controversy by suggesting all transfers should be handled centrally to avoid money leaking out of the game to third parties.

The organisation’s secretary general, in Brazil touring World Cup venues, declined to comment specifically on the details of the Neymar transfer, but did say FIFA was keen to tackle the "grey areas" in such transfers.

“As long as we can have parties part of a transfer who are not directly involved, meaning the two clubs and the player, there is a grey zone which leaves room for things to happen which we would wish did not happen,” Valcke said.

“There is still work to do to make sure transfers are perfectly transparent, so you know exactly the monies being paid and received in the transfer. It is something our legal department is working on. I am not talking just because of this Neymar story coming out; we have been working on it for quite a long time. I hope at the next FIFA conference, 2015 at the latest, we will have some solutions to solve this problem.”

This solution could involve FIFA partnering with a financial institution capable of operating as a "clearing house" through which all monies in a transfer would have to go, Valcke suggested.

“The best for FIFA would be for all the payments to go through FIFA, that all the money involved in a transfer would go through FIFA,” he said. “But that is something we cannot do as FIFA is not a banker, and we cannot become a banker. Could we find a partner to do that? I do not know, that is a conversation we could have internally.”

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