Sunday, May 28, 2017

Welcome to the real world -and to global organized crime in soccer

Former president of FC Barcelona Sandro Rosell is in jail. He was recently arrested as a result of judicial investigations about money laundering in the soccer industry. Some years ago, as part of his self-promotion to become the president of the club, he wrote a book entitled "Welcome to the real world," were presumably he told us about his personal experience after resigning from a previous position as vice-president. According to the officials dealing with the investigations, his experience in the real world in those years included very close contacts with organized crime in global soccer. As a former executive of Nike in Brazil, he had negotiated deals with the Brazilian soccer federation and became close of Mr. Teixeira, the historic president of Brazilian soccer, and also investigated in connection with the FBI probe on corruption in FIFA, soccer's international governing body. FC Barcelona has the legal structure of a charity, and its presidents are democratically elected by the members. However, since the club officials are personally liable for the debts of the entity, only members of wealthy families end up chairing the organization. Historically, this has meant that only individuals coming from the ranks of different branches of the Catalan upper bourgeoisie are presidents. That is why the profiles of the presidents have reflected the ups and downs of different sectors of this social class. In the XXth century many presidents came from the textile industry, then they were replaced at the end of the century by tycoons from construction and tourism, and with Laporta and Rosell they have been replaced by young well educated executives that try to find their way in the games played by global fortunes, be it in Uzbekistan (where Mr. Laporta made business) or in Brazil (the preferred source of contacts of Mr. Rosell). In this world, paying taxes or being transparent is a sign of weakness, apparently. The global unregulated nature of soccer facilitates corruption, and unfortunately Barça officials seem to have been an integral part of it.

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