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Why Josep Maria Bartomeu Deserved to Win the FC Barcelona Elections

On why Laporta only has himself to blame for his failed bid, and why Bartomeu was the right -- and only -- choice to take this club forward

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

The votes are in and the result is official: Josep Maria Bartomeu will remain President of FC Barcelona for the next six years as he stormed to victory in today’s election battle, claiming a majority victory over his three opponents. The news came as little surprise, although neither has the level of animosity and disdain directed at Bartomeu for his victory.

As expected, Culés across the globe have taken to social media to voice their discontent, their disappointment at the way the socis have voted. They wanted Joan Laporta to return to the helm; instead, they’ve seen their candidate humiliated and left to fade back into a life of relative obscurity.

When all was said and done, the club could have combined the votes for Laporta, Agustin Benedito and Toni Freixa and the result would have remained the same; Bartomeu was the overwhelming victor – and rightfully so.

Starting with his nearest challenger, Joan Laporta only has himself to blame for his defeat. The former Barça president and fan favourite entered the race late – and in spite of his lengthy hesitance in announcing his bid, his campaign was shallow and lacked any real substance.

A vote for Joan is a vote for La Masia! For UNICEF! And for the Barça of Cruyff and Guardiola!

In truth, a vote for Joan for always just that, a vote for Joan. As much as Laporta proclaimed to be a man of the people, his message wavered more as the campaign trail rolled on, before long even he was beginning to lose track of his key messages.

La Masia? Soon it was less about championing the Sergi Sampers and more about courting Paul Pogba; the French international became a key pawn in Laporta’s bid for power and perhaps serves as the quintessential example of his hypocrisy.

After all, here we had Joan Laporta: the staunch defender of La Masia and the critic of Galactico transfer policy, promising a luxury signing that the club barely required and that the management certainly haven’t demanded. Just how for instance would Pogba’s signing have improved our financials as well, another topic Laporta was so keen to discuss in Tuesday’s electoral debate on TV3?

These were the statements and promises of a desperate man, clutching at straws as he slowly realised just how outmatched he was. His attempts to leech off the popularity of other Barça legends also fell well short of their intended mark.

The unveiling of Eric Abidal as his new Sporting Director was essentially a PR stunt that the majority of Culés wilfully lapped up; yet in practice, it could have been a recipe for disaster. Consider: is Abidal actually qualified to perform the role, and moreover, is he a better option than Ariedo Braida, or Benedito’s candidate, Monchi for that matter?

Leveraging his relationship with Messi was supposed to be a game-changer as well, but at one stage or another, key members of his electoral staff – including Johan Cruyff himself – have at one stage or another done the exact same thing he accused Bartomeu of doing: considering the sale of Lionel Messi.

My personal favourite however had to be his use of the Neymar debacle; isn’t it wonderful just how conveniently and quickly that a career lawyer can forget the difference between "accused" and "convicted"?

It’s true that Bartomeu will stand trial for his actions in this signing, but Laporta was acting as judge, jury and executioner, all but assuming Bartomeu’s guilt – even if experts such as Professor Josep Maria Gay, a PhD in Economics and Law have previously insisted that there the state prosecutors have no case.

And it’s not like Laporta himself presents a squeaky clean image for the club, particularly not with his proposed CEO, Joan Oliver facing trial in relation to accusations of espionage against the players and board members relating to his previous spell at the club.

In elections gone by, Laporta’s shallow manifesto and inconsistent messaging might have been enough to secure another mandate; however, in this instance they merely served to enhance Bartomeu’s campaign.

All throughout the campaign trail, Bartomeu cut an assured figure – his tone and actions were fitting of a President, perhaps more so than they had been during his previous tenure – and his message seldom wavered throughout. He has been responsive to the demands of the management and to the demands of the fans.

Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal may have been signed under unusual circumstances, but they meet the needs of head coach, Luis Enrique. Last year’s signings of Ivan Rakitić, Marc-André ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and of course, Luis Suarez have also proven to be pivotal for the club’s evolution under Lucho.

Fans remain concerned with the club’s relationship with Qatar, and it seems as though Bartomeu is taking steps to rectify this; if rumours are to be believed, a new sponsorship deal with Japanese e-commerce giants, Rakuten could be on the horizon. All this time, Bartomeu has been planning his next moves, staying one step ahead of the curve and slowly but surely, Culés may begin to see the wider picture, just as the socis have today.

La millor candidat para la millor club; per moltes felicitats Josep!

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