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F.C. Barcelona Elects Joan Laporta; He Vows to Keep Messi

  • March 08, 2021

“Lionel Messi loves Barça,” Laporta said in his first remarks to supporters, leaving little doubt that he considers cementing Messi’s future at the club his top priority. “We are a big family, a big club with the best player.”

Perhaps an even more important task, however, will be uniting a club once revered for elevating modern soccer into high art out of an era of infighting, dirty tricks and red ink. The series of unfolding crises have turned Barcelona from a model of commercial and sporting success into, at times, the punchline of a bad joke.

“We want the joy and happiness to be back in this club,” Laporta said, adding in a direct appeal to members, “The best thing you can do for Barça is to love it.”

Laporta’s predecessor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, resigned in October, just ahead of a vote to remove him. By then, more than 20,000 of Barcelona’s 140,000 members had turned in hand-signed forms seeking his ouster, and last week he was detained by the police as part of its investigation of the team’s internal affairs.

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