Barcelona have been the subject of more news for off-pitch reasons in recent months than they have for what they get up to on it. FIFA’s decision to punish the club for alleged offenses related to the international transfer and registration of under-18s is not the only thing ruining, or at least blemishing, the Catalan giant’s reputation.
Messi’s problems with Spain’s tax authorities or Neymar’s controversial transfer negotiations and fee – which not only contributed to President Sandro Rosell’s downfall, but are also under investigation by Judge Ruz – are all bringing the club’s apparently ideal institutional model into question.
In less than a year, Barcelona have been embroiled in difficult court matters: Messi had to pay €15m to Spain’s tax authorities to avoid being accused of tax fraud; Rosell was investigated and later absolved for allegedly interfering with a friendly between Brazil and Portugal with his company; and Spain’s High Court investigated the contracts involved in signing Neymar, which led to the Catalan businessman’s resignation.
However, Barcelona is also the target of fierce criticism for their planned Camp Nou redevelopment, which the club’s board wants to see go ahead and which will be voted on by their members this Saturday. By the same members who have seen their team undergo a huge transformation this season, and do not yet fully trust Tata Martino.