Who is Sandro Rosell?

David Ramos

Many will have seen him attend matches from the presidential box but who is the Sandro Rosell and how did he become the 39th president of FC Barcelona?

Rosell was born in Barcelona on March 6th, 1964 and gained a Master of Business Administration at Barcelona based college ESADE. After a variety of jobs with football heavyweights, such as UEFA, FIFA and the LFP he returned to Spain to become part of the "Elefant Blau". A political party lead by Joan Laporta which was attempting to gain power at Barça.

Josep Lluís Núñez was the current president of Barcelona and faced a vote of no confidence from the "Elefant Blau" in 1998. The vote was unsuccessful but it set in motion the idea of seeing Núñez's 22 year period in charge come to an end. Núñez's term came to an end in July as Joan Gaspart, a Catalan businessman, won the elections. Gaspart's term was unsuccessful and he stepped down in 2003 after a run of poor results, before being replaced by Enric Reyna.

Rosell continued to work with the "Elefant Blau", entering the 2003 elections with Laporta being the underdog. Laporta's rival was Lluís Bassat and the promise of bringing David Beckham to Catalonia helped tip the balance in his favour. Laporta won the elections but fractions began to grow between him and Rosell.

In 2005, Rosell resigned from his role as vice-president after a very public feud between him and the president. Rosell's main criticism was Laporta's failure to follow his original vision. The 2006 elections came but Rosell declined to run meaning Laporta's tenure continued.

After a string of poor results, Laporta faced a vote of no confidence in which 60.60% voted against Laporta. Meaning he lost the overall vote but did not receive the required 66% to initiate a new election. However eight of the seventeen board members left their position and the list of members opposed to Laporta began to grow.

Laporta continued as Pep Guardiola was introduced as first team coach. Possibly the greatest team of all time began to take shape and picked up numerous trophies including a Champions League and multiple league titles. The team also had their best season in the club's history but Laporta's future looked more and more uncertain.

Laporta's tenure came to an end as Rosell won the 2010 elections, gaining 60% of the votes. Rosell officially became the president on July 1st, 2010. His first signing came in 2010 when Brazilian Adriano was signed from Sevilla for €13.5 million. Javier Mascherano competed the signings in 2010 as Barcelona won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

In the summer of 2011, Rosell helped negotiate the transfers of Ibrahim Afellay from PSV, Alexis Sánchez from Udinese and Cesc Fàbregas from Arsenal brining the total spending to an estimated €114.3 million. The team lost the La Liga to José Mourinho's Madrid but clinched the Copa del Rey as Pep Guardiola left the club.

When asked who he would recommend as he successor, Guardiola told Rosell "Tito Vilanova". Rosell agreed and Vilanova was announced as the new coach on the same day Guardiola confirmed his departure. Some critics cited the constant pressure from Rosell to renew as a deciding factor in Guardiola's decision to leave.

Vilanova's first signing was announced during Euro 2012 as Jordi Alba returned to the club he played at for seven years at youth level. Arsenal's Alex Song also joined as Barcelona lost just one of their first 26 games. The league title was reclaimed but the disappointment of defeats to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in their respective competitions hurt Barcelona fans as well as Rosell's presidency.

Perhaps the standout moment of Rosell's presidency to date is the successful negotiation of the transfer of Neymar to Barcelona, bringing the estimated total spending to €192.8 million.

Rosell's time at Barcelona has not been without controversy though. In March, 2013 Rosell‘s marketing company, Ailanto, was accused by Brazilian prosecutors of illegally profiting from a friendly between Brazil and Portugal, which the company had organised. ESPN reports that Folha de Sao Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper, claimed that €400,000 of the €3.5 million raised from the game landed in an account in Rosell's name located in Spain. Rosell's lawyer has been quick to deny the allegations but should Rosell be found guilty he faces an eight year jail sentence.

There have also been allegations of corruption between Rosell and ex-president of the Brazilian national team Ricardo Teizeira. The corruption criticism arose after Rosell was alleged to have paid Teixeria's daughter €1 million for an unknown reason and the appearance of Rosell on the Brazil national team's bus. Although these allegations are predominantly based on rumours, this bad press does not help Rosell's reputation as Barcelona's president.

Despite these allegations, Rosell has reiterated his desire to run for re-election in 2016. He stated at a meeting of the Club Senate in March of this year "My intention is to stand for re-election and ask the members to keep their confidence in my ability to deal with the challenges we have set ourselves." He also stated that one of the main priorities of the club is to restructure the club's finances. Joan Laporta has also stated his desire to run again for president but with three years before the elections it seems Rosell will remain unchallenged for the near future.

For many fans, the most memorable moment of Rosell's presidency came recently with the announcement of the club's decision not to renew Éric Abidal's contract. A man who had other come a life-threatening illness to return playing for the club and became a figure of inspiration for many of the fans and players would not be able to carry on playing for the club, arguably at a time when they needed him most.

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