Joan Laporta is returning to Camp Nou…
The 58-year-old Spanish lawyer has been elected the new president of FC Barcelona, returning to the post he previously held from 2003 to 2010.
Barca members voted Laporta into power on Sunday ahead of rival candidates Victor Font and Toni Freixa. The club called the election on Sunday night, with Laporta winning with 30,184 votes and Font coming in second and Freixa third with 16,679 and 4,769 votes, respectively.
Barca said 51,765 out of 109,531 eligible members had voted in the election, which was postponed from January due to coronavirus restrictions in Catalonia.
Among those to vote were first-team players Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, as well as the club’s former coach and current Spain boss Luis Enrique.
“I want to thank all the members for coming out to vote what has been the most important election in the club’s history due to [the effects of] the coronavirus pandemic, which has changed our lives,” Laporta said in a brief speech.
“I want to thank the members that have supported our campaign. This has been a celebration of democracy and of Barcelona. I also want to pay special thanks to Johan Cruyff, who’s no longer with us. I am sure he’s helped us.
“Barcelona is a huge family, and we will overcome the difficulties together. We will achieve the objectives that we have set out.”
Laporta takes over at a critical moment in the club’s history. Gross debt has risen to €1.2 billion during the coronavirus pandemic, with players forced to accept pay cuts, and star player Messi is out of contract in June and will walk away for free if new terms cannot be agreed upon.
Laporta said the fact that Messi voted on Sunday was “significant.”
“Today, 20 years ago, Messi made his debut for Barca’s youth teams,” he added. “To see the best player in the world, the player in the history of football, coming to vote, is a sign of what we have said throughout the campaign: that Messi loves Barca.
“The best player in the world loves Barca, and that is very significant. We’re going to encourage him to continue with the club, which is what we all want.”