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One of the many values for which FC Barcelona is famous for defending is that of democracy. And the most poignant example of this is how, unlike most other professional football clubs around the world, Barça is a not a limited company. It is instead a non-profit making association that is owned by its members. And it is those members who get to vote for their president, which is precisely what will be happening at the Camp Nou this Saturday 18 July.
The mandate for the FC Barcelona presidency was extended from four to six years in 2009, which was how long Sandro Rosell, who was elected president by a record majority of 61.5% in June 2010, was originally going to serve the post. However, in January 2014 he resigned from the position and was replaced by his vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
In January of this year, 2015, Bartomeu revealed that he would be calling elections in advance. The reason he cited was “to protect the Club from a level of tension which is not helping us to manage it. All this affects the team and that’s why we are calling elections at the end of the season – to lower the tension and help the team.”
There were originally seven candidates for the 2015 elections, but three of these were eliminated for failing to collect the minimum required number of signatures from fellow members. The four men who are vying for the presidency this Saturday are in alphabetical order:
Josep Maria Bartomeu: Has held different positions at FC Barcelona. Between 2003 and 2005 he was a board member, head of the handball and basketball sections, a sport he practiced during his youth in different teams, such as FC Barcelona. He came back in 2010 as sports vicepresident, a function he held until January 2014, when he took over as President after Sandro Rosell’s resignation.
Agustí Benedito: Founder of the the Elefant Blau platform that defended the unique ownership structure of the club and supported Lluís Bassat in the 2000 elections. From 2003 until his resignation in 2009, formed part of the club’s Sports Commission and Social Commission under the Joan Laporta presidency. Stood as a candidate himself in the 2010 elections, finishing second.
Antoni Freixa: In 2000 supported the candidature of Lluís Bassat. Later, from 2003 to 2005, was Legal Advisor to Joan Laporta’s Board and a member and later president of the Disciplinary Commission, a post he left in October 2014. In 2010, he became Secretary and Spokesman for the Board during the presidency of Sandro Rosell. He stood down as spokesman in February 2014 and as Secretary in October 2014.
Joan Laporta: Was elected as President of FC Barcelona on 15 June 2003 with 52.7% of the votes and was re-elected as President in 2006. During his mandate the club won the Champions League twice, income increased by 300% in the seven years and the number of members rose from 106,135 to 173,701. Laporta the historic Unicef agreement in 2006, by which FC Barcelona committed itself financially to collaborate with the organisation and also wear its logo on the first team shirt.
How the elections work
Any adult member is entitled to vote provided (a) they are legally incapacitated, (b) have been a member for a minimum of one year, (c) have not had their membership status suspended and (d) are included in the electoral roll. Votes must be cast in person – there is no possibility of electronic or mail voting. Membership cards are not required to vote – a national ID card is all that people need to bring.
Once the four candidates that satisfied the essential conditions to stand in these elections had been confirmed, the campaign itself ran for a week from Thursday 9 July until midnight CET on Thursday 16 July, the highlight being the live televised debate between the four candidates held at the Camp Nou on the evening of Tuesday 14.
Voting takes place from 9.00am to 9.00pm CET on Saturday, and the results are not likely to be revealed until the small hours of Sunday morning.
Hive of activity
Election day is not just about coming to the stadium and putting voting slips in the ballot box. The club has made sure that this Saturday is going to be a fun day out for all the family to enjoy. The activities include the chance to have your picture taken with the Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League trophies won last season, a special stadium tour that includes the presidential box and the first team changing room and children aged 5 to 14 will even get the opportunity to have shots on goal!
Children can also enjoy games with an aquatic theme, different crafts and such attractions as the ‘shootometer’ and ‘jumping kids’. Older visitors can have fun with body painting, graffiti and fast-football, as well as other activities related to handball, basketball, roller hockey and futsal. There will also be plenty of music and other shows to keep everyone in the mood, plus free catering for members and their guests.
You will find full information about the elections in our Election Special section, and you can rest assured that here at www.fcbarcelona.com and on our official Twitter account we’ll be keeping you up date with all the news as it happens on this historic day for FC Barcelona!
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