Sunday, November 22, 2009

Benedito: "It won't be a matter of two candidates"

Barcelona presidential candidate Agustí Benedito gave an interview to Spanish newspaper El País.

What could your role be in the expected battle between the continuity candidate and Rosell?
Those who think that the elections are a matter of two are mistaken. Some will vote for Rosell, others for Laporta, but the majority will not vote for one of them, but for other candidates, or will not vote at all.

One must keep in mind that Barça has 183.000 club members, 100.000 of those have joined in the last five years and 70.000 since 2005. We expect that there will be more voters than ever: some 70.000 to 80.000 members on an electoral role of 135.000 and 40.000 members will vote for the first time in their life. Most of these circumstances are in our favour.

All candidates so far have supported or were part of the board of Laporta. What will happen with the project of 2003 that was voted for by an absolute majority and has caused many divisions along the road?
The project of 2003 has its origins in the choice for a model change in 1997. I supported the project with which Laporta became president. And I think that, with some additions and updating, it is still perfectly valid for Barca.

What happened is that the president left the road, he went away from it, and, therefore, it should not be surprising that the people who worked on and believed in the project of 2003 have now the will to take it up and to continue it. Many points of the program have not been executed because the president didn't want to.

You resigned after it became known that Laporta's law firm had intervened in the possible sale of Mallorca. Was that the biggest betrayal of the project?
From the president of Barça we can demand an ethical behaviour, and in this case he didn't even respect the desirable minimum. What is serious in the case of Uzbekistan is that the buyers of Mallorca were professionally linked - there were commercial agreements - with the club and therefore Laporta did at the same time business with those people as president and as lawyer.

Until that moment, there were rumours and reports, but nothing had been confirmed. Laporta told TV3 [Catalan television channel] during the built-up to the vote of no confidence that he had no business links with the world of football but contrary to that, he was trying for a friendly football team friend, Bunyodkor, to buy another football team that was in trouble...

It was clear he had been lying. And I might not have the power to make the president resign, but I do have the freedom to leave myself. We can analyze the management of a club in different ways, and the final outcome of Laporta's mandate is positive, but when we talk about ethics or moral behaviour there is no room for doubt either.

Was the candidate Laporta different from the president Laporta?
In the seven years prior to his presidency, some of the key principles of our project were increasing the transparency, communicating more with club members and letting them more take part in the decisions.

And regarding the honesty and the participation of the members, the results haven't been satisfactory.
The results of the football team couldn't have been better, but in other aspects he has clearly failed.

Winning trophies is a very important objective, but not the reason for being of the club, which are the members. The objective of the football team shouldn't be confused with the essence of FC Barcelona. The key moment, the event that distinguishes us from the others, are the elections.

It sometimes seems that the valuation of the management is no longer based on a job done well or poor, but based on what is ethical or illegal, as if everything that is not illegal is correct.
Yes. I lived the vote of no confidence in 1998 against a president [Josep Lluís Núñez] whose mandate wasn't limited, and I remember the aggressiveness with which he defended himself and which made him call the people who promoted the vote "anti-barcelonistas".

And now I have the feeling that those who criticize or disagree with the management of the board are not just accused of being "anti-barcelonistas" but also of being anti-catalan.
Laporta has politicized the club and he has on the other hand lost control of some things.

In my opinion, the parameters for evaluating the ethics and morals of a president of Barça are at this moment unacceptable or are at least not in accordance with the history and the characteristics of the club.

this was the first part of this interview. you can read the second and last part here.

Read more:
Introducing Benedito (five-parts series)
Poll result: Can Benedito win the elections?
Barça, a 'wonderful rarity' (by Agustí Benedito)