49-year-old Barcelona president will step down over allegations of ‘misappropriation of funds’ in the Neymar deal
Madrid: Barcelona announced an extraordinary board meeting Thursday amid reports that president Sandro Rosell may be poised to resign because of a legal wrangle over the signing of Brazilian star Neymar. "Today, Thursday January 23, at 18:00, there will be an extraordinary board meeting at the club offices," Barcelona said in a statement without elaborating.
Pressure mounted on Rosell, 49, after a Spanish judge agreed Wednesday to hear a case made against him by one of the club's own members for alleged misappropriation of funds in the deal which brought Brazilian star Neymar to the club last year.
Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo said in its online edition that Rosell had decided to resign and would announce his departure later in the day. The paper, without giving a source, said Rosell decided to go because of mounting pressure and threats to himself and his family.
Moreover, it added that the former Nike executive feels harshly treated having made a huge effort to bring Neymar to the club and having cut Barca's debt significantly during his time in charge without undermining the team on the
field. It said he would leave Barcelona in the hands of vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu until the end of his mandate in 2016.
Mundo Deportivo said Rosell met with his deputies in the morning and agreed to formally present his resignation in the evening before announcing it to the media. Leading Catalan daily La Vanguardia said in its online edition that Rosell had decided to go, also without citing a source.
They said in their paper edition that Rosell was considering quitting so as to protect the club's reputation during a possibly drawn-out legal proceedings. However, La Vanguardia suggest Bartomeu would take over just until June when there would be a presidential election.
Former president Joan Laporta, under whom Rosell served as vice-president for two years between 2003 and 2005, has been linked with a return to the presidency the next time elections are held.
And he claimed Rosell's silence on the Neymar deal was damaging the club's reputation. "President Sandro Rosell ought to give an explanation to the members of FC Barcelona," he said on his official Twitter account on Wednesday.
"He owes it to them. His silence damages the image of the club." Rosell has routinely insisted that the 21-year-old Neymar cost the club 57.1 million euros (USD 77 million), but refused to divulge how much money each of the parties to the deal received on confidentiality grounds.
That led Barcelona member Jordi Cases to launch the case against Rosell last month for not informing the club's members as 40 million euros (USD 54m) of the fee was supposedly paid to a business owned by Neymar and his father called N&N.