Josep Maria Bartomeu has won the Barcelona presidential elections after his candidacy attracted 54.6% of the total of 47270 votes, which means 43% of those with a right to vote did so on Saturday. Former president Joan Laporta, despite having public support from Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, could only attract 33% of votes. Agusti Benedito (7.2%) and Toni Freixa (3.7%) finished, as predicted, far behind the two front-runners.
Barcelona members' support of Bartomeu is a direct response to the team's impressive results on the pitch in the last season, leading to an unbeatable treble of Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey. The deadly Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez trident the team is currently boasting was also a deciding factor which played in voters' minds.
Bartomeu, who received most of his votes from the over 60s within the Barcelona fanbase, was preferred to his rivals despite having stained the Blaugrana with Qatari money, being currently awaiting trial accused of tax fraud when signing Neymar, getting the club banned by FIFA from signing players for 14 months for breaking transfer rules for U-18s and having neglected La Masia to the point that Barca B will play in Segunda Division next season.
Joan Laporta, obviously disappointed with the result, explained: "Congratulations to the winner. There were obviously two very different models to run this club. We tried to give Barcelona a president who wasn't awaiting trial, sold the club to Qatar or destroyed La Masia, but we couldn't. I am a democrat and must accept the result. Surrender? No way, I never give up."
Democracy is what makes Barcelona different from the vast majority of sport clubs in the world. Socis had the chance to chose the future of their beloved institution and, in a gloriously sunny Saturday in mid-July, the majority decided to trust Bartomeu to lead the Catalans' ship for the next six years.
Whether you agree with the decision or not, all that true supporters must now do is support Bartomeu or, at least, give the president the Socis elected the benefit of the doubt. A tough ask? Certainly, but what is truly imperative is that the nasty Rosell / Bartomeu vs Laporta battle which has been damaging the club for years does not continue any longer.
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