Joan Laporta hits out at rivals in Barcelona presidential race
Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has hit out at current incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu and old rival Sandro Rosell for standing in this month`s elections despite facing criminal charges.
Madrid: Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has hit out at current incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu and old rival Sandro Rosell for standing in this month`s elections despite facing criminal charges.
"We have two men, Mr Bartomeu and (his predecessor Sandro) Rosell, who are being pursued for corruption...if they had a minimum of decency they would not stand," said Laporta at a press conference in Madrid to launch his own campaign for election.
Laporta previously served as president at the Camp Nou from 2003 to 2010 before his mandate ended and Rosell was elected as his successor.
But Rosell, a former ally of Laporta`s before the two fell out in 2005, resigned last year when investigations began into alleged misappropriation of funds in the signing of Brazilian star Neymar from Santos.
Bartomeu, who had been the vice-president, stepped up to replace Rosell but in May a court ordered him to stand trial along with the club in the Neymar case.
Candidates hoping to stand in the July 18 election for president of the Spanish and European champions need a minimum of 2,534 signatures of support from club socios (members).
Barca`s on-field success following their treble of Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey last season means Bartomeu is the favourite to win the election and remain as president -- he has received the support of 8,554 members compared to 4,272 for Laporta.
Also standing are Catalan entrepreneur Agusti Benedito and Antoni Freixa, a lawyer and part of the board under Bartomeu.
Laporta has also emphasised his position in favour of Catalan independence and criticised the Bartomeu regime for their "ambiguous" stance on the matter.
"I don`t hide that I am in favour of the process undertaken by Artur Mas," he said, in reference to the president of the Catalan autonomous government, who is a supporter of Catalan independence.
Laporta says he wants Barca to return to the "values" of his previous term in office, with an emphasis on bringing through players from La Masia, the club`s renowned youth academy, and bringing back the Unicef logo on team shirts.
He also said that he would look to sign French international midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus -- who is also a reported target of English side Manchester City -- and added a decision on whether to keep Turkish international Arda Turan would be "studied" by the technical staff and coach Luis Enrique.
The 28-year-old Turk was signed on Monday from Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal for a fee that could reach 41 million euros ($45m, £29m).
However, Barcelona added the signing comes with a clause that will allow the incoming president to sell Turan back to Atletico, albeit doing so will incur a fine of 10 percent of the transfer fee paid.
In any case, Turan will not be able to make his debut for Barcelona until 2016, by which time the reigning European champions will have completed a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.