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Monday, 11 July 2011

The Dark Arts of FC Barcelona

The devil's best trick is to persuade you that he doesn't exist!

Baudelaire knew nothing of FC Barcelona, having breathed his last 32 years before the Catalan club was founded. But his words can be used to describe the victim complex that Les Cules have been trading on for years. Perhaps that’s a little unfair. No-one would deny that the region of Catalonia was victimised during the reign of Franco from 1936-1974. During those years the club really did symbolise the spirit of resistance, club president Josep Sunyol was executed by Francoist soldiers in 1936, and after the civil war the club was made to change its name into Castilian Spanish, the Catalan flag was removed from the crest and meanwhile Real Madrid romped to domestic and European success.

These days it’s Real Madrid playing catch-up. With Barcelona dominating on the pitch, flexing equal financial muscle and chasing and aggressive transfer policy, the romance has all but gone form the Catalan stronghold.

But those days have gone. FC Barcelona became the symbol of Catalan resistance because it chose to, and since Johan Cruyff decided to sign for Barca over Real Madrid as he could not associate himself with a club linked to a fascist regime, Barcelona have traded successfully as the club for moralists and romantics. Because since then, Barcelona has not been disadvantaged. Both clubs are now bankrolled by low interest bank loans from Spanish banks. Barcelona are no longer the brave rebel peasants, walking down from the hills to whisper in their banned language inside the stronghold of regional pride – the Camp Nou. After winning the Champions League three times since 2005 and La Liga four times since 2004, they are no longer anti-establishment, they are the establishment.

Much is made of Real Madrid’s second galactico era, supposedly signalled with the big money signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and others. Real Madrid are unfavourably grouped with teams such as Chelsea and Manchester City, accused of simply buying success, which is is an insult to Real’s own rich historic tapestry. Barcelona are seen as a club which nurtures it’s own talent, at the fabled La Masia complex. However, Barcelona aren’t afraid to splash the cash themselves. In recent years their transfer spend has been huge – fees for Dani Alves, Ibrahimovic, and David Villa amongst other have all been in the £30 million plus bracket. Even during the first galactico era of the late nineties and early noughties, Barcelona were spending a huge amount of money on players. In the year of the infamous transfer of Luis Figo from Barcelona for £37M, Barcelona signed Marc Overmars for £25M, Gerard for £15M and Spanish international Alfonso for over £10M. Over the last decade, Real Madrid outspent Barcelona in all but two of the years, but have unfairly earned their reputation as a club that grows its own. With regard to those home-grown players, many of those have simply been sourced at a younger age (Not old enough to sign professional papers and therefore cannot be bought or sold) It’s paid off in dramatic fashion of course, most of the current best players in the world have come through that academy. However, there is something sinister about this strategy. By using their global scouting network, Barca pick the players up as youngster, avoiding huge transfer fees and then popping them in the La Masia greenhouse, to see how they turn out. Lionel Messi signed for Barca as the agreed to pay for the expensive medical treatment he needed to combat a growth deficiency. The wage bill at Barcelona is higher than any other football team – even Manchester City (Although that probably riles the Sheiks somewhat, so don’t count on that lasting too much longer).

Barcalona’s financial acumen has been brought into question many times recently – go to for excellent in depth explanation.

Even more sinister were the accusations that blood-doping, amongst other illegal medical practices that enhance performance, was going on at La Masia. These accusations were never proved, and in fact Barcelona successfully sues for libel. But mud sticks, unfairly or not.

Looking back at that transfer of Figo, it’s understandable that the Catalan people would’ve felt betrayed. This was their emblematic forward, their cult hero, and he had turned his back on them for their most hated rivals. Hard done by? Well you could say that, but nothing justifies throwing bike chains, half-bricks, coins, mobile phones, bottles, and most famously a severed pigs head at the player in his first return to Camp Nou. Truly disgusting behaviour.

Fast-forward to last season. Jose Mourinho, well known Barca-hater, led his Real Madrid team out in a remarkable series of games between the great rivals. The master of mind games managed to get Guardiola to snap, but overall, Barca won the series of matches on results. However, if anything, public opinion began to sway against them. Accusations of racist abuse by Sergio Busquets against Marcelo were not fully exonerated, and the Barcelona players were widely criticised, even ridiculed, for the level of play-acting and ref-chasing that went on. Mourinho sensationally claimed that UEFA favoured Barcelona, and had rigged the appointment of anti-Real Madrid match officials – but to be fair, there aren’t many referees that get on with The Special One.

Barcelona are also relentless pursuers of transfer targets. Despite Cesc Fabregas being under contract at Arsenal, and not on the transfer list, yet he’s talked about by Director of football Andoni Zubizarreta as if his arrival is inevitable – and he’s probably right.
“We know what we have and what we need and we have until August 31. Last year, Mascherano arrived in late August, while Adriano came in early July. Our first team is a great one, the best in Europe, with great players and coaches … 90% of the signable players in the world are at Barça”.

Their pursuit of a player under contract at Arsenal has been nothing short of disgusting. Fabregas has made no secret about his desire to return to the club


More than a club? Damn right - it's a bloody evil empire.

1 comment:

  1. I can smell...Inferiority....I would understand if u r a real, registered Madrid fan..if not..u should be ashamed to write such a biased article, which is just full of embarassing logic(if they are)..