x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Joan Laporta going public with Barcelona's dirty linen

As Joan Laporta gets ready for court, Andy Mitten examines what it means for the current regime.

Joan Laporta is also facing charges for alleged financial irregularities in dealings with football clubs from Uzbekistan.
Joan Laporta is also facing charges for alleged financial irregularities in dealings with football clubs from Uzbekistan.

To some Barcelona socios, or members, Joan Laporta is the greatest president in the club's history and indisputably the most successful.

The former fan activist and lawyer came from nowhere to win the club's presidential elections in 2003 on a promise to sign David Beckham.

He didn't pull that off, but oversaw Barca's rebirth and the club's second and third European Cup wins before standing down to concentrate on politics last year.

To others, Laporta is an egotist corrupted by power. Barca's socios last year voted to take legal action against him for misappropriation of club funds when he was in charge. The evidence is piling up, but Laporta maintains his innocence.

Receipts released at the weekend showed Laporta lavished club money on hotel rooms at US$5,000 (Dh18,350) a night for himself when others in the Barca party were in $159 rooms.

And that he had used private planes, bought 1,644 tickets to a U2 concert and 1,518 tickets for a Champions League final that were not for the use of club members.

It does not cast Laporta in a positive light and he was in court on a separate charge on Monday as part of a separate investigation into alleged financial irregularities in dealings with football clubs from Uzbekistan.

So how does all this affect Barca now?

Pep Guardiola, the coach, still likes his former president, and the man who appointed him and has spoken publicly of his sadness at the strife surrounding the club.

So does Johan Cruyff, a hugely influential figure in Catalonia.

Neither believe that action should be taken against Laporta, who fell out spectacularly with the current president, Sandro Rosell, in 2005.

Rosell had been his deputy and did not complain recently when one Barca member brought a civil action against Laporta which threatened to have all his property and assets frozen by the courts.

Laporta is not going to stay quiet and many believe he could take others down from Barca's current board if he is found guilty of misappropriating funds.

Rosell was elected on a mandate of transparency, something that has been historically lacking among Barca presidents. Laporta argues that he inherited and cleared up a mess at the club, others claim that he was just as bad as his predecessors.

It's a mess which sadly detracts from Barca's glorious football.

sports@thenational.ae


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