Barça knew since 2012 that the Camp Nou was in poor condition
Board did not take any action despite receiving another report, in 2014, talking about "urgent measures"
BarcelonaThe previous Barça board played with fire with the Camp Nou. It is a stadium that will soon be remodelled but where, in the meantime, Barça play their home games. After being closed for a year and a half because of the pandemic, the Camp Nou reopened its doors in mid-August, but only after 127 defects had been repaired, 44 of which were of a serious and urgent nature. The report that warned of the defects, as advanced by La Vanguardia, was received by President Josep Maria Bartomeu in 2019, but he did not act due to lack of budget and up to 21 matches were played with fans during that period, including one el clásico. The problems, however, originated much earlier. As ARA has learnt, the first reports warning of the "poor state" of the facilities date back to 2012. And in 2014 another one was received that spoke of "urgent measures". In neither case were the deficiencies addressed.
The reports came into the hands of the previous managers from the study to remodel the Camp Nou. A project that Sandro Rosell's board promoted and that would later be known as Espai Barça, which also included a new Palau Blaugrana and a new Mini-Stadium. This was 2012, when a first report already alerted the board to some of the stadium's issues. In 2014, the year in which the members approved Espai Barça in a referendum, and with Josep Maria Bartomeu in the presidency, a second report went further and mentioned that urgent repairs had to be made at Camp Nou. Improvements were not carried out. The straw that broke the camel's back came in 2019 was when a final report alerted the board that there was a risk to spectators who went to the stadium. "They started to make proposals, internal issues... and then they stopped it because of the pandemic, considering they didn't have the money. But the fact is that they played with people's safety," explains Elena Fort, vice-president of the club, consulted by ARA on this issue. "We can talk about numbers, but this thing about the stadium is the most outrageous," she says.
About €2m cost
The current directive, chaired by Joan Laporta, was aware of these deficiencies following statements by Carles Tusquets in which he spoke of "pathologies" in the Camp Nou. Once they took over, in mid-March, the Espai Barça task force requested this report, but the outgoing board refused to hand it over. A few weeks later, in April, the text reached the hands of the current managers of Barça. "It is the situation that has impacted me the most since I joined the club. I had a shock when I read it. We immediately ordered it to be sorted out. If we had to stop paying salaries, we had to stop paying them. But Camp Nou could not have pathologies that endangered the club's workers who are in the stadium," the vice president says.
Elena Fort says that the club "would have made a fool of itself" if La Liga had authorised Camp Nou to open earlier, and also adds that the board was clear that it "would not open the stadium to the public" until these problems had been fixed. In the end, almost €2m euros were invested. "It is beyond comprehension how they spent €119m on the Espai Barça and did nothing to fix this," the vice president concludes.
Barça explains that after the Bartomeu board had access to the report it was obliged to carry out repairs. "If a piece of the stadium falls and hurts someone, or kills them, in addition to economic responsibilities there are also criminal liabilities," they say. A total of 21 matches were held and nothing happened, but Bartomeu's board played with fire.