FC Barcelona will keep Josep Bartomeu in his role as club president for the next six years after the incumbent came out on top in a vote on Saturday.
Bartomeu, president since January, 2014, won 54.63 percent of the votes cast by club members, according to fcbarcelona.com, beating out his closest rival and former president, Joan Laporta, who won 33 percent of the vote. The other two candidates, Agusti Benedito and Toni Freixa, received 7.16 percent and 3.70 percent of the votes, respectively.
The 52-year old Bartomeu overcame enormous odds to stay in the job, having endured a difficult 18-month spell during which FC Barcelona has been through court investigations into alleged misappropriation of funds (with respect to the transfer of Brazilian Neymar), a one-year FIFA ban on player transfers, and the sacking of the club’s long-serving director of football.
In addition to that, he faced a strong challenge from Laporta, who ran the club with great success between 2003 and 2010, and enjoyed the backing of FC Barcelona legends Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola.
Indeed, it was the troubles at FC Barcelona that brought Bartomeu into the presidency in the first place, having stepped in to replace Sandro Rossell, who stepped down in January of 2014 after being named in investigations into the Neymar transfer scandal. Bartomeu himself was later included in that investigation. The FIFA transfer ban followed afterwards, after the world ruling body found that FC Barcelona had flouted rules regulating the transfer of under-age players.
It was in the wake of that FIFA decision that Bartomeu called for these elections last January — following the sacking of director of football Andoni Zubizaretta, and the resignation of his assistant Carles Puyol, both former club captains.
Results on the field worked in Bartomeu’s favor though. FC Barcelona finished last season as treble winners, bringing home the Champions League, Copa del Rey, and the Spanish league title — and according to ESPN, posting a profit of €608m. That seems to have been enough to sway the club’s 150,000 members, 43 percent (47,720) of whom turned out to vote — including manager Luis Enrique and several past and present players — making it the third-highest turnout in FC Barcelona history, according to fcbarcelona.com.
Bartomeu, a businessman with companies involved in airport and seaport facilities, has been associated with FC Barcelona since 2003, having served on the board under Laporta for two years (as head of the basketball section), before returning to take over supervision of the football team under Rossell in 2010.
[Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images]