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October 2016
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Barcelona to be excluded from Spanish League; Neymar assets frozen, Messi injured

By Tony Attwood

Catalonia didn’t actually hold a referendum on independence recently; it held elections to the regional assembly.  As a result the main separatist alliance and a smaller nationalist party won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament.   So they won most of the seats, although they didn’t get half the vote.

Such things happen; we have governments in the UK all the time that claim to speak for the people because they won most seats, but often have only around 35% of the popular vote.  That’s how democracy works, at least in my country.

Still as the BBC put it, “The separatists say the victory gives them a clear mandate to form an independent Catalan state.”  The government in Madrid says “no”.

I doubt that too many people are thinking about it, but the president of the Liga de Fútbol Profesional, Javier Tebas, and the Spanish sports minister, Miguel Cardenal have said that if Catalonia gains or just takes independence Barcelona won’t be able to play in the Spanish league.

Which is also a bit sad for  RCD Espanyol  who mostly play in the top division in Spain,  CE Sabadell FC played for 14 seasons in the Primera Division and CE Europa.   Europa, Espanyol and Barcelona were founding members of the League.  Still I suppose they could play each other and then like Andorra, apply to be in the Champions League qualifying round.

Moving out of Spain though would lose Barcelona its TV revenue for matches against Real Madrid although with that I suspect they would sent up an Iberian Cup and play for that instead.

Barcelona supporters however engage in pro-independence chants in the 17th minute of games to commemorate 1714, when the region lost its autonomy.

Of course no one quite knows what will happen.   Clubs do play across national boundaries (Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Berwick Rangers and Wrexham for example in the UK) but I am not sure if Uefa would give permission (scandals and corruption permitting) or if the Spanish League would want Barcelona back, given how much of the TV money they still get, even after the recent reforms.

And there is the fact that Barcelona is always surrounded by controversy.  Being found guilty of child trafficking is one thing, then placing hopelessly lopsided arguments about that in national newspapers across Europe in which they protested their innocence was another.   It’s just the endless stream of controversy.  They just can’t get it to stop.

In fact recently just when it looked as if it couldn’t get worse a court in Brazil has frozen the assets of Neymar to the tune of over £31m.

The São Paulo federal court pronounced stated  that Neymar is said to have evaded tax to the tune of £10.5m between 2011 and 2013 – at which time he moved to Spain.  Judge Carlos Muta pronounced that Neymar declared assets worth £3.2m and is now accused of not paying £10.5m tax – and so he froze assets to three times the value to cover fines and interest on the debt.  This also stops Neymar selling anything until the case is heard.

Barcelona Football Club was then cited as the source of money Neymar failed to report which is perhaps not surprising as Barcelona have already paid €13m to the Spanish tax authorities over what they described as the taxman’s different “interpretation” of the tax law, as reported earlier on Untold.

Barcelona now are trying to protect their own financial skins and say that they paid Santos €57.1m for Neymar.  The state says they actually paid over €80m with the rest of the money moving through a series of different bank accounts and paying arrangements.  So the state in Spain says it is owed €12.7m in unpaid tax – quite separately from the tax claimed by Brazil.

Barcelona is sponsored by Qatar Airlines and Nike, Audi, Allianz, Toshiba, EA Sports and by and large they don’t seem to mind these financial dealings and associated controversy, but I suppose one day they might think there is just too much of this going on especially if the prime suspects in the Barcelona tax case,  Rosell and Bartomeu (the president and his successor), are found guilty and could face prison terms of seven years and two years respectively.  The club could be fined €22m also but I suspect the sponsors will have a whip round.

Josep Maria Bartomeu has seemingly admitted the total cost of the disputed transfer came to €86.2m once additional payments to the player and his family had been included.

So it couldn’t get much worse for Barcelona could it?   Well yes, because Lionel Messi is out with a torn ligament in his left knee, and Barcelona have said he will be out for seven to eight weeks.  Rafinha is out for six months with a knee injury also.

It’s a tough life when you have been banned from making any signings.  Mind you, I expect them to go berserk in the transfer window in January.

But quite how much money will be spent and where it comes from and then goes to, is probably going to be a matter of debate.

Arsenal in the summer  (full series index of all 46 articles on the Arsenal History Society site)

The Untold Books


17 comments to Barcelona to be excluded from Spanish League; Neymar assets frozen, Messi injured

  • Menace

    Correct Tony – Democracy works that way because everyone on the Electoral Register has the right to vote. If they don’t then in reality they should not complain. Complain? They are usually the first to complain without the courtesy of casting their vote.

  • FunGunner

    Interesting… Is the root of this Barca trying to keep up with Real Madrid?

    I think you’ve misundeerstood the point about democracy – the governing party in his example has 35% of the votes cast, not 35% of the votes of all those eligible to vote.

  • Andy Mack

    FunGunner, if 35% is more than the next party/option, then they’re the biggest/most voted for by the people that actually vote. If they don’t vote, they don’t count!

  • Florian


    Gheorghe Popescu’s incarceration had actually little to do with Barcelona. The only link is that he played there; otherwise, the association between Barcelona and Popescu’s tax fraud is artificial. Not that I usually like to defend Farca, but in this case they don’t deserve it. Popescu went to jail because he started doing business with the wrong people, who taught him a lot of the wrong things he knows, and they were all eventually found out by the Romanian prosecutors. I’m sorry I only have links to Romanian websites, but if you do a search I’m sure you can find plenty of material. For starters, see his Wikipedia page.

  • Gord

    I wasn’t trying to say that his problem is directly related to Barcelona. But there sure seems to be a lot of fraud associated with that team. Did he start learning some questionable things while at Barcelona? And years later, start trying them and get in trouble?

    Two references, one Dutch and one Romanian. 🙂

    At the moment I have no time to track things down, the movers arrive in 10 hours.

  • Gord

    Happy birthday Per Mertesacker, the BFG!


  • Florian

    Gord,Barcelona at that time was the Eastern European dream team, with Stoichkov, Hagi and Popescu at the helm. Popescu was elected captain, after he had been PSV’s captain, specifically for his work ethics. The only problem is, he was a collaborator of the Romanian political police, “Securitate”, as even an article in the Guardian reveals (search “Gheorghe Popescu Securitate”, it will show up near the top of the list). So, it is more likely that he learnt more questionable things while writing informative notes for them than by playing at PSV and Barcelona (not to mention the Tiny Totts). But this is nothing besides being associated with plain gangsters like Giovanni Becali, who went from re-selling tickets in front of a cinema to being one of the most influential agents in Europe, by taking advantage of the most talented generation of players Romania has ever seen. Becali was known to be a shady character, so I was even surprised when I found out that Popescu was doing business with him. Therefore, I find it far more plausible that Popescu learnt to go big from Becali rather than Barcelona.

  • Gord


    I am getting Romania mixed up with Hungary in my head. I knew a man in Edmonton, who was from Hungary. Some people jokingly called him Puskas. He did come from Hungary about that time, as far as I know.

    My Mom’s family came from the Ukraine, near Zhytomir. But that was 1920’s.

    But, it sounds more likely he learned his corruption from Romanian politics.

    I suppose on the flip side, maybe he was one of the people that warped Barcelona?

    I still have packing to do.

    Have a great day! Cheer loud, I will be too busy to follow the game.

  • Gord


    It’s possible that this person from Hungary, was like myself, of German heritage. Which I guess would mean he probably left Hungary in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.

    I would guess his name was Perger (phonetically, sort of).

  • porter

    Just as a Murphy was called Spud or a White was Chalky a Hungary an in London in the 50’s would be associated with Puskas. After all they were unlikely to call him goulash.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    How many teams is required to form a national league for the size of Catalonia ? If Catalonia gets kicked out of the EU , could other non EU countries send teams to play there ?
    I think that FIFA , with all their troubles , and even with the mild mannered Swiss , should be thinking of moving their base and money to this new soon to be formed country. A tax haven , where no one pays any taxes ( wait a minute , even now they aren’t paying their taxes !) , beautiful climate and good football awaits . Just selling Messi , Neymar , Suarez shirts should keep the economy afloat . Bitcoins , too will be welcome !
    No DNA testing is required to gain citizenship !
    I just hope our players from that region have alternate papers , and will not be forcible ‘repatriated’ back as persona non grata ! Now , that would get ‘them’ up in arms against the boss , for not being well informed of the situation !

  • Gord

    I’m just waking up (no coffee yet). But to be more specific in this instance, Edmonton is the one in western Canada, not north London. I don’t know how many Hungarian immigrants there were likely to be around as a result of their being pushed out of Hungary in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. I do know that quite a few Sudeten immigrants ended up in western Canada as a result of German activity pre-WWII (Tomslake, BC, Canada is nominally full of these people).


  • porter

    Fair enough , but a correlation of Edmonton to North London on an Arsenal site I think is forgivable.

  • Gord

    Yep. The other 2 Edmonton’s I am aware of are in Kentucky, USA (the smallest one) and a suburb of Cairns, Australia.

  • @Gord could you send me that website whereby was it director or manager of barcelona telling the press that they used to cheat and could know the refs for their matches,Champions league.