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Sandro Rosell: A Great Businessman Who Lost His Culé Soul as President

On Thursday, FC Barcelona saw one of its most dramatic days in club history as Sandro Rosell resigned as president of the club, amidst the Neymar contract controversy. Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club's former vice president, is now the new president. In this article, Xoel Càrdenas gives us his take on the Sandro's time as president, what he did right and wrong, and how he lost his Culé soul as FC Barcelona president.

David Ramos

On Thursday, FC Barcelona saw one of its most dramatic days in club history as Sandro Rosell resigned as president of the club, amidst the Neymar contract controversy. Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club's former vice president, is now the new president. Elections will be held as scheduled in 2016.

Barcelona will not face any kind of penalty or sanction due to the Rosell/Neymar contract issue.

In the press conference, Rosell stated:

"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 jeopardize my family.

"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 Jr. has been correct and his signing has caused despair and envy in some of our adversaries.

"It has been an honor to serve the Barcelonistas. It's been a privilege to be the president of FC Barcelona. I wish the best to the new president and I ask the Club members to support him."

For me, the events of Thursday were a shame to watch. Regardless or whether you were glad to see Sandro Rosell go or not, Thursday was an overall embarrassing day for FC Barcelona.

As most of you know and have known when reading my article, I was not the biggest fan of Sandro Rosell. I thought and still think he is an incredible businessman. But I, like many Culés, felt that Rosell was a bit too much about business, and not about "Més Qu Un Club". In other words: tradition, Culé family and more.

One of Sandro's biggest sins, for some, is when Qatar Foundation became the club's shirt sponsor. Barça has always taken pride in never having a sponsor on the kit. In 2006, Barcelona agreed to sponsor UNICEF-not the other way around-on the team's kits as well as donating 1.5 million euros per year to the organization. But in 2010, Rosell and the board agreed to accept Qatar Foundation's bid to help the club get out of the debt it was in.

Another "sin" by Rosell was to remove the honorary presidency title from Johan Cruyff. This obviously angered Cruyff, who vowed never to step foot at the Camp Nou until Rosell was out of office. With Sandro gone, we'll see if Johan comes back to the Camp Nou, despite Bartomeu and Rosell's board members team is still in office.

There were many other sins by Sandro, including not re-signing Eric Abidal as well as allowing "Qatar Airways" to be painted on the Camp Nou seats via a deal with the airline. In other words, too many "for money" deals. But for most-myself included-it was the falling out between he and Pep Guardiola, leading to Pep's departure, will always be Rosell's biggest sin. Guardiola's teachings, along with the play of the team, brought FC Barcelona to historic triumphs and records that may well never be matched. It is unthinkable that any football president would allow a manager with Pep's record go. But that is what happened due to their falling out. I'm going to say it was all Sandro Rosell's fault, because Pep has an ego too, and he needed to calm down as well. But the majority of people feel that Sandro Rosell did not do enough to work with and keep Pep Guardiola at FC Barcelona.

It wasn't all bad with Sandro Rosell. In fact, it was financially one of, if not, the most economically prosperous times in the club's history. Rosell was and is a smart businessman, and he knew how to cut the debt left by his former friend and predecessor, Joan Laporta. Rosell brought money back to the club, reduced the spending of players, partnered with companies to bring in revenue, and clearly left FC Barcelona in better financial shape than it was back when he took office in 2010.

Since I mentioned Joan Laporta, let me say a few quick things about him. Was I a fan of his? Yes. Do I expect him to run for president again? Yes. Do I expect him to win if he runs? Yes. All of that being said, Laporta was the sportsman that Rosell wasn't, but Rosell was the businessman Laporta couldn't be. Laporta knows how to work a room, likes keeping Blaugrana traditions in tact, is friends with Cruyff and Guardiola, and has many "Laportistas" supporting him. But Joan Laporta was a big spender, sloppy on the business aspects of running a club, and was/is a rebel-which is not always a good thing. The man loves to have a good time, but don't you expect more responsibility from your club's president? If and/or when Joan Laporta comes back to FC Barcelona, my hope is that he learned a thing or three from Sandro Rosell and his business/financial moves. Laporta knows how to and will make a big signing (a CB, please), knows how to keep "socios" and fans happy, but let's hope Laporta will not take the club into a big debt like he did in during his presidency in the 2000s.

As for Josep Maria Bartomeu, I wish him the best, as he is our club's new president. But let's not get too comfortable with Bartomeu. He and others in Rosell's camp could be heading to court in the Neymar contract scandal as well, so his time as FCB president may not be too long. Don't be surprised if many Barça socios look to push for elections this year instead of waiting until 2016, which could open the window for, you guess it, Joan Laporta.

I very much hope there were not death threats against Sandro Rosell or his family amidst this Neymar contract scandal. Sandro Rosell may have done some (or much) shady dealings, including the Neymar contract. And for that, I am not defending Rosell. Although Sandro Rosell may have or may have not done some illegal doings, but neither he nor his family deserves to be threatened by any means.

Did Sandro Rosell, Neymar, Neymar's dad and others break rules when it came to Neymar's signing? Only they know. Is there something suspicious when Rosell and others close to him will not give a full breakdown of how the 57.1 million euros was divided in the Neymar deal? Absolutely. Could the signing of Neymar cost over 57.1 million euros? Only a few people know that (Rosell, Neymar's dad, etc.). But I'm not here to try and figure that out. Why try and guess? Like I said, only a certain few that know the truth. Should Neymar explain a few things himself, or his dad and his dealings? Yes. I, like the Barça socios and fans, would like a clear answer, but don't hold your breath on getting a full explanation from anyone anytime soon. We'll see how the legal system works in this case.

Sandro Rosell accomplished most of the things he set out to do for FC Barcelona when he started in 2010. He got the club out of a good amount of debt. Thanks to the team's play, he was able to built the FCB brand up globally. Rosell brought more money into the club via technology, new media, and corporate sponsors. Rosell worked with many charities and organizations as well. Rosell got the New Camp Nou project to be put to a final vote of approval, with voting scheduled for April.

Finally, Sandro Rosell signed Neymar, whom Rosell felt like he had to do anything and everything sign in order to for continue the club's success on the pitch for years. The signing of Neymar was going to be and still is part of Sandro Rosell's legacy at FC Barcelona. Are we thankful for the signing? Of course! Let's not be hypocrites. We are all grateful to Rosell for signing Neymar because we care about the club's well being. That being said, and in my opinion, Barcelona socios should know how and how much of the club's money was fully spent on the transfer.

Sandro Rosell did anything and everything to get Neymar. Unfortunately, that "anything and everything" may have included unfair and/or illegal doings. Will some people view Sandro Rosell as a sort of Culé martyr; a man who gave his career to do something (perhaps illegal) that would benefit FC Barcelona, long-term? Yes, some people may see him in that light. Personally, I see Sandro Rosell as the man that saved Barcelona from financial ruin, built the brand up, and showed all future presidents how the club should run as a business. That being said, I disliked that Rosell lacked attention when it came to keeping traditions; relationships with former players, fans, and socios; and in a way, he lost his Culé soul as president by seeing everything being about money and business. I understand he had to focus on the business of the club because that was his job. But not everything is about money and business. FC Barcelona is family and tradition for the players, former players, socios, and all Culés. Sandro Rosell loves Barça, no one is questioning that. But there were too many times when it seemed like he forgot that the Barça family and tradition comes before money and business.

Mission accomplished, Sandro. You achieved most of your goals. And for that, you should be applauded. I applaud you. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in you. It all ended in a very embarrassing way not only for you, but for Futbol Club Barcelona.

I wish you and your family nothing but the best.

Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya!

Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona

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