Josep Maria Bartomeu came out swinging on Thursday afternoon, taking potshots at FIFA over Barcelona’s transfer ban and the "unknown" entity which reported the club.
The Barcelona president was angry about several issues and made his thoughts known at a press conference which had originally been called to discuss the referendum for the new stadium plans.
He was furious with FIFA for not informing Barcelona about the punishment for the supposed wrongdoing earlier, he insisted that the club had not actually done anything wrong and he vowed to track down his side's enemies.
Bartomeu's ideas and thought process appeared confused at times, as on one hand he was arguing Barcelona's innocence and on the other he was explaining that FIFA should make exceptions for teams like the Blaugrana.
He said, as per CNN:
The La Masia system is something not to be touched. It won't be changed and we will fight this unjust attack on a model which has been a huge success over the last three decades. FIFA is punishing a method that it tried, tested and proven over the last 35 years.
FIFA know that we do things correctly. We had Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi as first, second and third in the Ballon d'Or. We want all of our fans and members to show their indignation at this sanction.
What Bartomeu is saying is that because the system is successful—and the results have been endorsed by FIFA in terms of awards for the academy products—they should not be punished.
While he has a point, in that the rules are put in place to stop children and their families being exploited—and that’s clearly not happening here—it is almost as if he is admitting that Barcelona have not been sticking to the straight and narrow.
Bartomeu continued, as per the Daily Mail:
We agree with the regulations, what we want is for clubs like Barca to be an exception. We ask FIFA to look from case to case, the circumstances of each kid, so that there can be exceptions to the rules. Barcelona did not break the rules. When they told the kids could not play, they stopped playing. The parents of these kids want them to stay with us.
Essentially, Bartomeu believes that Barcelona are doing the right thing for the youngsters coming through La Masia and their families agree.
That might not work within the FIFA framework but Barcelona say that world football’s governing body should make exceptions.
FIFA rules say international transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18—unless the player in question meets one of these three qualifying criteria.
Under-18s can move to a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and between 16-18 years old, or if they live within 100km of the club they sign for.
Barcelona have been found guilty of breaking these rules, with 10 occasions of serious infringement, and if that is taken to the highest level and proven, then it’s difficult to agree with Bartomeu that the ban is “unjust.”
What he may have a point about is the severity of the ban and the way the decision was reached a few months ago but not announced until now.
Bartomeu said: “We did not know the two window ban was coming. It is all very strange. It is not normal for a punishment to be decided in November and communicated in April.”
If the club had at least an indication of what was to come, they may have strengthened in January ahead of the announcement.
Or, if the punishment had been declared when it was decided, the first window would have been this past January, which would mean that they would only really miss out on signing players in the summer.
It would have lessened the impact of what could be a devastating punishment if it is upheld.