Guilty Barcelona praised to the heavens by part of the media

By Tony Attwood

When Talksport gets excited it can be a good time to take cover.  And excited they are today in their latest web statement.  They say…

“In a timely report the Football Observatory of the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) have explored just which clubs from Europe’s top five leagues currently boast the most homegrown talents, a study that has yielded some very interesting results.”

Now TalkSport tend not to deal in definitions and detail too much, so let me add that Home Grown means having spent at least three years at the club between the ages of 15 and 21.  So a player can be home grown at one club, and then at another.  That’s how it goes.

Anyway Talk Sport and to a lesser degree the so-called “Football Observatory” get quite excited about all this.  Here’s the TalkSport take on it all in revelling the number one home grown club.

1. Barcelona – 43 homegrown players currently playing in Europe’s top five leagues

There should be no major surprise as to who is number one, but the sheer volume of talents to have been influenced by Barcelona is nonetheless staggering. 43 players currently playing at an elite level have come from the Catalans’ famous La Masia academy, of which 13 are still at the club. A staggering 30 players to have learned their craft at Barcelona populate a number of clubs around Europe.

Well yes, up to a point.  But you see that’s the problem with journalism when you do a cut and paste job around someone else’s press release.  And yes, adding the extra gush as within “Homegrown talent. It is a huge discussion point in football – particularly in England – as Three Lions bosses look at ways of unearthing the next generation of player that is going to hopefully one day play for the national side,” can give a bit more vim.

There’s another side to all this.

Because as you might recall Barcelona are unable to sign players until January 2016 because Fifa has given Barcelona a 14 month ban for child trafficking, or to put it more technically, for breaching rules “on signing international players under the age of 18.”

Which suggests that their first place in the league of underage signings is not just underage but also a bit underhand.  Or maybe given the severity of the punishment from Fifa, very underhand.

Barcelona appealed against the ruling, and in one of the fastest appeals cases anyone can remember Fifa threw it outt, largely because the appeal said the finding of the first case and the punishment was an “affront to the spirit” of their “world renowned” academy La Masia.

As the Fifa execs settled back to here the actual appeal they found that was it.  There was no new evidence, no finding that the previous process had been faulty.  It was simply wrong because it was an “affront to the spirit of their world renowned academy.”  An academy it now seems is based utterly on breaking the rules.  Or to put it more basically, child trafficking.

It is a shame that Talk Sport and the “Observatory” didn’t mention that ban and its connection with “home grown players” in today’s pro-Barcelona hysteria.

As the BBC said, when commenting on the rejection of the appeal, it was interesting because the home grown part of the Barcelona model “is regarded as being the foundation of the club’s success in recent years.”  Yes, it was interesting then and it is again now.

Barcelona we were all told, would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).  Now that is also interesting because when you go onto the Cas site there is a list of forthcoming cases.  And if you have some time to waste and want to scan up and down you might look for Barcelona.  There is one such case, but it is shown as

29 October 2014
CAS 2014/A/3574 Barcelona Sporting Club v. Club Atlético Boca Juniors

That’s all there for Barcelona until 4 December.

Cas hearings are private, so we can’t ever be sure what sort of honest judicial process is involved, whether there are under-the-table deals or whatever else, and so a submission to CAS is always something to take cautiously, because we never have a clue what is going on.

But when the case is still not listed… then one starts to wonder.  The ban was imposed and immediately appealed on 20 August this year, and after that all went quiet.  I can’t find a single article on the internet which gives more information beyond that date.  Did Barcelona actually put in an appeal, or were they told that even if they did so the chances were that they would be humiliated yet again?

As far as I know an appeal to Cas does not stop the ruling that is being appealed being implemented.  It’s a bit like appealing a guilty verdict for murder in the UK.  Just because you appeal, they don’t let you out of prison.

So the ban stands, and unless Barcelona get to Cas before 1 January 2015 and get a ruling in their favour they will be unable to sign anyone in January.  Without getting their ruling overturned in the first half of next year they can’t sign anyone in the summer of 2015 either.  In fact they can’t buy until January 2016.

Worse, they know that the whole production line of bringing children to Barcelona has to stop – or else they will face further prosecution.

As a result of the ban Barcelona went on one of the wildest spending sprees of all time, knowing undoubtedly that even with the secrecy of a Cas court to protect them they would have their work cut out to get an appeal ruling in their favour.  So this is what they did.  They went buying

Luis Suarez (striker) – £75m from Liverpool Marc-André ter Stegen (goalkeeper) – undisclosed from Borussia Monchengladbach
Thomas Vermaelen (defender) – £15m from Arsenal Jeremy Mathieu (defender) – £15.8m from Valencia
Claudio Bravo (goalkeeper) – £7.2m from Real Sociedad Jordi Masip (goalkeeper) – free from Barcelona B
Ivan Rakitic (midfielder) – undisclosed from Sevilla Rafinha (midfielder) – recalled from loan at Celta Vigo

In addition FCB have a fine to pay of £305,000 and been told by Fifa “to regularise” the situation of all children currently signed to them.  .

The relevant Fifa rules show that international transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 – unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria.  Barcelona utterly ignored these conditions with child after child after child – with it seems the connivance of the Spanish FA (who were supposed to be watching over them and who were also found guilty by Fifa).

Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if either…

  • Their parents move there for genuine non-footballing reasons, or
  • If they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or
  • If they already live within 100km of the club.

The Fifa investigation looked at players who were registered by the club between 2009 and 2013.   Fifa kept the identity of these players (all of whom would count in the “Observatory” listed quoted with such glee by TalkSport) as a secret, but it has been speculated that children from outside the EU were brought to Barcelona, and a parent given a “job” to meet the first condition.  The “job” however was simply a ruse, and did not exist.  You don’t move from Africa to Barcelona and bring your child with you, to take up a post as a waiter or a car park attendant.

So yes, Barcelona brought a lot of players through.  But maybe for once some of the news media might have paused for a moment and reflected on the price in human terms.

Or at least looked at the news story that was still in their archives.

The books

Untold Arsenal is here


30 Replies to “Guilty Barcelona praised to the heavens by part of the media”

  1. Tony. Talksport is typical of the journalism we get today. There is no accountability, they decide to promote an agenda and make no attempt to conduct proper research and establish facts.

    On ‘that’ Arsenal blog yesterday this classic:”I think a great example of bringing in bodies to help is the way Chelsea work. They bought Drogba, a man well past his prime who made the difference against United at the weekend (nearly). Barca bought Larsson back in the day. Milan used Veterans to dominate. Spurs used Sheringham, Scholes and Giggs to great affect”.

    This is funny rubbish. Here we have someone who claims to know everything about football and produces a daily blog that critices the Manager and our club. He actually thinks Giggs and Scholes played for Tottenham!! This guy clearly has a massive hole in his football knowledge and should not be writing about a subject of which he cannot even get something as basic as this correct. Unbelievable.

    I get sick and tired reading this type of hogwash in the media, in the Newspapers and on blogs – especially by those who love the sound of their own voice. There seems to be no attempt to be factually correct, it is all about promoting a one sided view. No accountability and too many who lack the intelligence to do anything other than believe everything they read.

  2. @proudkev,

    To add, What these idiots ignore…….well these players like Drogba, Scholes and Giggs (who did not play for spurs) blocked a youngsters progress into the team. Did Pogba leave ManUtd cause he was not given chance?

  3. The transfer ban was good, but the fine was pathetic. Some of those youngsters they illegaly brought in are probably the same ones breaking into the senior team, like Munir. Combine their transfers and their ill-gotten gains in their youth system, you reckon the transfer ban won’t hurt them too badly. I suppose they are saving harsher punishment in case Barca repeat the offence.

    Does anyone know what punishment the Spanish FA received?

    @proudkev, I think in this case about homegrown players, it’s more down to ignorance and incompetence than having any agenda.

  4. I hope you guys at Untold are going to write something about this whole Mark Clattenburg affair. The man the PGMOL are replacing him with is Stuart Attwell, who awarded Reading a phantom goal against Watford in 2008.

    Clattenburg, of course, being the same man who was banned for 8 months in 2009 after the PGMOL investigated his “private affairs” (come again?), after reducing it from a out-right dismissal. And also failed to award Spurs a clear goal against Manure in 2005.

    Oh what loveable japesters that lot at the PGMOL are, eh?

  5. Simple really- Barcelona manage the press well in what is a give and take relationship rightly or wrongly. While other clubs and managers are busy ‘playing ball’ with this necessary evil that is the media, our manager is engaged in “his long running retaliation” and “winding up” of them. While he is manager nothing will change. I guess Arsenals attitude is that his management strengths lie in economics, not in PR.

  6. InitialsBB

    You really have got a problem with Wenger haven’t you.

    As has been suggested elsewhere Wenger may or may not be trying to wind them up with his “I did not see it” refrain, but should that really cause him and Arsenal so much spite and bile in the media? Honestly?

    Sir Alex regularly criticised and banned journalist, and entire TV corporations for that matter and that never seemed to dull there fawning, arse liking attitude towards him did it.

    Are you really truly trying to suggest ‘I did not see it’ is behind the diabolical way we are treated in the media and consequently by the Referees?

    Talk about a stretch.

  7. I mean, every time Robson, Merson, Wright or Durham, Reade or Custis or whoever having yet another anti Wenger rant are they thinking:

    “Take that you myopic Gaelic professor and multi linguist…that’ll teach you for saying ‘I did not see it'”

    Honestly, if it wasn’t so pathetic it would be funny.

  8. Given this sites obvious stated support for Arsenal and their manager why does someone like InitialsBB who obviously takes the opposite view spend so much time here. It’s like saying I hate cricket but go to Lords every week, it doesn’t make sense.

  9. as for talk shites attitude? I once listened to one for their so called debates. it started with, “this our opinion”, no back ground research etc, just “this is our opinion” and the idiots spend a good amount of money and time trying to call this station to rave and rant for what?

  10. @gouresh
    October 29, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Its the same lot of people who complain about ticket prices 🙂

  11. Are there economists in the crowd? Or people with a propensity for that? 🙂

    Familiar with moving averages? I applied a 3 point, median filter to the finish position (hence no data for first year and last (2013/14) year. But how this “reranks” teams should “feel” more accurate, especially for older data. In one year, this resulted in no team being first. Lots of ties, and gaps in the data. And in no year, does it rank as many teams that played.

    Anyone have good feelings for a particular year? I’ll post that. I doubt there is interest in the entire set.

  12. Have just about had enough of you BB; regardless of whatever topic under discussion you’ll always find a way to turn that against Wenger. What the fuck is your problem?? You clearly have a problem.

  13. Sorry to be off-topic, but ref has denied Newcastle 2 clear penalties and ignored a dangerous forearm assault by a Man City player, right in front of him.

    Despite this MC are 0-2 down. They need to spend some f….. money in January, as they clearly need a world class DM monster.

  14. @Georgaki. Couldn’t resist a response to your post at 9.13pm. Something tells me that by virtue of what we’ve seen so far, a double take of bovine (bull) manure is appropriate. Plus, a pathological need for relevance, a deep-seated but warped need to be needed. So why bother responding to such characters. I suspect he needs to ‘sell’ himself to Arsene Wenger probably so he can be his media consultant. He must know a thing or two that Arsene hasn’t grasped in his 18years or so of working in England. A tip on how to manage his image and that of the club. What a great mind!

  15. Has anyone seen Wellington Silva play? I see in multiple news articles, that he has finally gotten his work permit. But he must be frustrated, having to be “out in the wilds” for sooooooo long.

    Other news? More crap. There are now 2 or 3 replacements for Wenger in the works, they are still bashing Ozil (feud with Alexis). Just garbage.

  16. An aside about Wellington Silva, I have long thought Arsenal had a dumb picture of him. He was always in some big winter jacket.

  17. I like dogs and dislike cats. I believe cats can be part of an anti-gravity device. But, one of my sisters works at a place, where they have a few jokes at the front counter. They had a joke about how to clean a cat, which I liked. Here is approximately the joke I seen:

    How to Wash the Cat

    Thoroughly clean the toilet. Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water, and have both lids lifted. Obtain the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

    In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids (you may need to stand on the lid so that he cannot escape).


    Do not get any part of your body too close to the edge, as his paws will be reaching out for any purchase they can find.

    Flush the toilet three or four times.

    Have someone open the door to the outside and ensure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door.

    Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids. The now-clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself.

    The DOG

  18. Afobe is on fire…….too good for that level. Time for level up. Another striker in the ranks……

    Way to go.

  19. Initials BB there is a certain amount of amusement to be had by seeing the way you take a subject- almost any subject – and then turn it around so that it relates to Mr Wenger in a negative way.

    But I think I have seen enough. Please do try to stick to the topic. It is of course valid to say that FCB have the media in their pocket – I would concur with that, but then to jump to an issue of Wenger and the media as if it had something to do with the original piece is hardly relevant.

    If you had done it just once I might let it go, but you keep doing it, and I would like you to stop please.

  20. Brilliant article, well written and well presented points. Probably the most powerful article on Untold for some time. In essence all this masturbation over Barca is basically applauding cheating. How long does this systematic abuse of children’s rights and the rules and regulations go back I wonder. How old was Messi?

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. Bravo!

  21. Sharpehunter, I agree. The cheats like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Man City are never criticised or ridiculed in the press. Yet a club like Arsenal that have huge integrity and have tried to operate sensibly, are at every opportunity. Look at Chelsea. They are everything that is bad in football. The owner has used money that was never his, to financially dope an English football club. He used this money to coerce the best players from other teams and blatantly tapped players up, starting with Ashley Cole and the Jon Obi Mikel saga. Over a billion pound of debt was created and transferred out of Chelsea to Fordstam and the rest is history. Their first tite since the 1950’s courtesy of a Russian and the money he ‘obtained’ from the impoverished Russian people.

    Arsenal meanwhile, while the Russian was throwing his weight around, were selling their best players in an attempt to manage their cash sensibly and finance the move to a 60,000 seater. No state hand out, like City and West Ham received, money had to be generated by the sensible application of a business model.

    Yet Arsenal get ridiculed and laughed at for 9 years without a trophy, Wenger criticised as losing his touch and a whole group of ignorant so called fans heaping abuse on Arsenal FC. Meanwhile, the cheats are praised at every opportunity.

    It is truly mad.

  22. @Gord – I like all animals. I also like humour.

    How do you make a cat bark?

    pour petrol on it & set it alight – it goes Woof!

    Sorry if it upset you. Never do that (pour petrol) on anything. It can be explosive & dangerous.

  23. Dicking around….you may have seen him !

    I had a friend who had taught his pet monkey to steal people’s money while he played the organ.

    I think it was him playing with the organ that distracted the audience so much that the monkey gradually made him rich.

    Of course, he would always get arrested for indecent exposure but he would pay a fine and move on to another city.

    He’s about six-foot tall, weighs 200 pounds, red hair and a mole on his you-know-what.
    Also, the monkey wears a little red hat.

  24. From our Medical flies ..sound familiar ?

    How dare that quack of a doctor tell me that most of my medical problems come from my having a Type B personality! I told him right to his face that he was dead wrong and threw a fit right then and there.

    They may not let me back in the door but as soon as I get home, I’m getting my old grade cards out and show that smarteleck that I got all “Grade A” in typing.

    Meanwhile…I need to rest a bit over this headache and these heart palpitations.

  25. Is this why people hate the French ?

    Bob was telling his friend Joe about his vacation in France. Bob talked about how lovely the Eiffel Tower was, the exquisite works of art at the Louvre, the Notre Dame, and of course, the beautiful French women.

    Joe asked Bob, “Was there anything you didn’t like about France?”

    “Well,” Bob replies, “there was one thing that was strange about it. In France, anything you eat, anything you drink, even the air that you breathe over there cleans out your colon. I mean, it really cleans your colon out.”

    So Joe says, “Gee, with France like that, who needs enemas?”

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