Sports 06/03/2021

A final debate with no aces up its sleeve

Laporta drags Font and Freixa into a melee at final campaign rally

3 min
The candidates this morning for the photo sessions at the Camp Nou with the Barcelona media.

BarcelonaThere were no surprises in the last debate between the candidates for the Barça presidency. There were no hidden letters or promises that had not been heard throughout a campaign that has dragged on for seven weeks due to the pandemic. With an incisive, confident and penetrating Joan Laporta, the former president was the one who intervened the most and ended up dragging his rivals into a melee. An exchange of reproaches in which Víctor Font and Toni Freixa finally fell, despite the fact that they had been making efforts to keep their manners and stick to the script.

The debate on Tv3 and Catalunya Ràdio had generated expectation. Created, above all, through a Víctor Font who saw it as the last chance to convince "the 35,000 undecided" that he has detected and to whom he asked for the vote, already in the first intervention. Laporta, confident because he leads the main polls, first opted for a defensive tactic, speaking optimistically about the future and endorsing his management as ex-president. While Freixa navigated between two waters, relying on his time as a director (2010-15) when attacking Laporta and seeing "reasons for hope" when he interposes his model to that of Font.

The candidates essentially repeated the messages they had already been delivering in recent weeks. The debate was somewhat predictable because no new proposals were heard and the tension came when Laporta interrupted Font and Freixa, defending himself from the attacks with a very forceful tone. The former president, however, calmed things down in the final stretch, when the Espai Barça was discussed.

The difference in the debate came when the candidates were allowed to ask their rivals a question. Laporta asked them if he could count on their support, Freixa answered yes, and Font, who was also "evidently" predisposed, wittily replied that "this will not happen" because he will not be the chosen president. Freixa, who in the economic section charged again against Laporta for the situation in which he had left the club in 2010, wanted to know if the former president would sign contracts with the company Mediapro, and he said he would do it "with whoever was necessary". While Font, tired of Laporta accusing him of not having the experience to run the club, asked the former president what experience he had in 2003. A question he answered by going off on a tangent, saying he had "determination".

The sporting part

The sporting part was one of the most tense. Font spoke of an organisational chart and even showed a sheet of paper where - although no names could be seen - he claimed to have "made the planning for next season". Laporta avoided naming names, in line with the campaign, but assured that he had "contacted the main representatives" and that he was ready to build a good team for the future. And Freixa insisted on the certainty of bringing in "three differential players" to complete the squad next season. Freixa also boasted about Lluís Carreras and pointed out that he was the only one who had presented a sporting secretary to accompany him during these weeks.

On the other hand, there was little news about Messi, a figure who generates consensus because all the aspirants want him to continue, but with different points of view on how to approach his renewal. Laporta claimed that with him there was more chance of him continuing and Font responded that this depended on the "credibility" of the project, and that in his opinion "someone with ascendancy like Xavi rather than a former president" was more important. A point that was met with a short response from Laporta, who told him: "How little you know him".

There was also no new developments on the Espai Barça, which served to bring the debate to a close. Font maintained his proposal to carry out an audit and to begin the work in the spring, combining the matches at the stadium with the remodelling. A model similar to that of Toni Freixa. And Laporta, as he had already announced during the campaign, disassociated himself from the proposal, saying that it would have to be up to the members to decide whether the work would be carried out at the same time as the matches were played in the stadium, or if they would go and play outside the stadium.

The debate could have got out of control, but in the end nothing got out of hand, partly due to the intervention of the moderator, the journalist Francesc Garriga, who was supported by small clocks that counted the time. In the end, Laporta ended up speaking only one minute longer than the others.