FC Barcelona was the best football club in the world last season, sweeping Spain's La Liga and Copa del Rey trophies, clinching the UEFA Champions League, and uniting an offensive trip (Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez) that is surely one for the history books. Still, in spite of the success, a few things were up in the air this summer concerning the future of the soccer club-namely whether or not manager Luis Enrique would be back for another season, and whether or not President Josep Maria Bartomeu would retain his post.
Now, it's clear that Barca are going with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality for the 2015 2016 season. Enrique got a contract extension back in June, and on Saturday, July 18th, Bartomeu won re-election to remain the football club's president.
Despite the astounding success of the FC Barcelona soccer squad during the 2014 2015 season, Bartomeu's election victory is anything but assured. Bartomeu was and still is a suspect in the fraud case connected to the signing of young Brazilian forward, Neymar.
Indeed, both Bartomeu and his predecessor, Sandro Russell, are still under investigation for Neymar's 2013 signing from Santos. According to ESPN, the magistrate investigating the case accused Bartomeu, Russell, and other FC Barcelona management of "fabricating a labyrinth of contracts to hide the real cost of signing the Brazil international." A judge says Neymar cost €83.3 million, while Barca reported paying €57 million to bring him to Spain. The lower reported amount cut down on what Barcelona owed the government in taxes.
The fraud case is not the only black mark on Bartomeu's record. He is also connected with the transfer embargo that has forbidden Barcelona from signing any new players in 2015. The ban was handed down by FIFA, who allege that Barca broke the rules that the soccer organization has for signing players under the age of 18. Not that FIFA is the model of innocence at the moment. (Note: Barcelona is actually signing players this summer, but will not actually be able to use them competitively until 2015.)
With all of that controversy still in the air, it seemed as if Bartomeu might be forced out to make way for a fresh start at FC Barcelona.
A Decisive Victory
Ultimately, though, memory of FC Barcelona's recent treble victory trumped any doubts about Bartomeu. On Saturday, July 18th, FC Barcelona's members voted to keep Josep in charge.
Bartomeu won re-election outright, clinching 54.63 percent of the vote (or 25,823 votes) to defeat opponents Joan Laporta (33.03 percent), Agusti Benedito (7.16 percent), and Toni Freixa (3.70 percent).
So how did Josep Maria Bartomeu beat the bad press to win re-election? The biggest reason, of course, is the treble victory. Barcelona's recent successes absolutely left the football club's members hesitant to make any major changes this summer, on or off the field. The natural inclination was to keep conditions as similar for the 2015 2016 season as they were a year ago.
Add the fact that Bartomeu himself was the one to call for presidential elections at Barcelona, and members of the club clearly saw him more as a good steward for the club and less as a potentially corrupt leader trying to hold onto his power.
What do you think? Will Bartomeu's re-election help the wearers of the Barcelona jersey 2015 2016 win another treble? Or will his involvement in ongoing investigations come back to bite the football club? At Soccer Box, we want to hear what you have to say! Link up with us on social media to share your thoughts! You can find us on many social networks including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.