The following is a translation of the first part of a question and answer session with Johan Cruyff published in El Periodico. The original can be found here.
A year ago, you returned the insignia of honorary president [of FC Barcelona]. Afterwards, you had a meeting with [Sandro] Rosell to try to fix things, but the distance continues and you have not returned to the Camp Nou.
No, no I haven’t once been back to the stadium. It’s just that, on an institutional level, I like very few things that they do. I don’t see a path and there are strange things [going on]. For example, last year they sold [Dmytro] Chygrynskiy for 15 million because they said they could not even pay his wages and now they have spent nearly 70 million because they will likely pay nearly every variable, in two signings [Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fábregas]. If you say there is no money, it is because there is none, and you must accept that, but this does not seem very consistent.
But now the club will generate more income with the Qatar Foundation contract, although the deal must first be ratified by the assembly.
I already said that I do not like shirt sponsors; however, if it is necessary then something must be done. But if there really was so much urgency, why did they simply not do it the year before when, according to them, things were so bad? Why are they doing what they are doing with the [other sporting] sections? Can you save the club with this money? I don’t get it. You can fix things with just a little imagination, like using just a part of the proceeds from the Gamper [trophy], because Napoli came to play for free. You already cover the costs. What is a section? It’s one of the symbols of Barça being more than a club. These are people who have an emotional bond [with the club]. They always talk of emotions and sentiment, but with certain gestures and decisions, they betray themselves.
There are problems with your foundation.
Yes. The club is undergoing expansion, to promote an image of unity—similar to what they have done with Bill Gates and his foundation, and it seems perfect to me. Or with Shakira as well. But here, in Catalunya, they do nothing. My foundation, which does things here around Catalunya, has not been paid. Why play games? I see no consistency between one situation and the other.
The fact you have not been paid seems to be more attributed to the financial claims the club has made and to the fact that it was a deal that you signed during your days with Joan Laporta’s board.
But there’s a contract. I keep doing the things that I was doing before and pay out of pocket. I read that [Rosell] needs to talk about this with me but he has not done so—not him, not anyone. They go on making excuses, but nothing that makes sense. If he wants to make a difference, then do it, say something, but you can’t keep lying to these handicapped children. This type of aid is a part of the responsibilities of a club like Barça. You have to set an example and the example is not to always be crying about lacking this or that, and criticizing the ones who came before you.
But this war continues. There is a legal liability movement against Laporta and his directive staff.
Yeah, yeah. Many are criticizing him but you are collecting trophies now because of the good work he did before. So, why do you behave like that? I truly don’t understand it. Even though I have been at the club for many years and I normally know from which directions the shots are coming, it’s not clear any longer.
Because I see strange things. What am I referring to? The Qatar deal, for example, when you know that Rosell had or has relations and business and we’re talking about a very rich country. Just look at what he has done to the sections like it matters nothing, and he speaks about how much debt we have and always with this economical topic. What does he want, to someday turn Barça into a private corporation?
That seems impossible.
I’m not so sure. So, in which direction do we move? What kind of club does he want? There are things here that you don’t understand and make you suspicious. If you want to sell a company, what do you do? You eliminate that which does not pique the interests of the buyer. Let’s say Qatar [Foundation] is the buyer. The other sections of the club won’t interest them, neither will the local foundations because they already have their own. These are not pleasant thoughts and I am not saying it’s true, but you see things that make you think there could be something behind it all.
Your relationship with [Pep] Guardiola remains intact and on the margins of the situation. You play golf, eat together, talk often …
Yes, one thing that has nothing to do with the other. We are friends. What can you say? Do you hide what you think? Do you hide yourself? If he asks you something, would you not answer? It’s absurd. The friendship I have with him gives me great pride.
He’s already beating you in titles: 12 to 11.
That gives me even greater pride. I haven’t worked for 15 years and he is making me even more famous. So, how am I supposed to be jealous of someone who is maintaining my prestige? What more could I ask for? What’s even better is that this is the best way for this philosophy to stay on its feet and bearing witness to the admiration that he provokes, for however small it is, that little rascal [laughter]. If you pick up any newspaper in the world and there is an article talking about the great style of Barça, my name always appears and makes me even more famous. Oh, that it lasts, that it lasts.
Precisely. This relationship with Guardiola is one of the reasons why you have decided not to write every Monday in El Periódico as you did before and which you will now do once a month.
Here you always have people who want to misinterpret things. I do not want to interfere with Pep’s work nor do I want to make him feel uncomfortable because of what I think about the team each week. Last season I spoke very little about things going on with the club. But I see things continue to be the same. When Rosell said he and his team were not bullies or charlatans, what was the point? Why do you even have to make that allusion? And we are accusing [José] Mourinho? If you have inherited one of the most exceptional things in the world and in the span of a year have had more glory and more trophies than anyone else, a secure team for years to come, be grateful.
But Guardiola is the guarantee that all will continue the same.
It scares me to think about what will happen when he’s not around, because Rosell has always been against people like Pep and [Frank] Rijkaard. His philosophy is more Brazilian and Portuguese. Everything started with Rijkaard, with his behavior. He was a gentleman. If he had been working under Rosell, he would have been thrown out within six months and it’s also likely that none of this would have occurred.
Image: Jordi Cotrina (El Periodico)