Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has defended the club’s youth philosophy and criticized the one year transfer ban by FIFA.
Bartomeu criticized that Barcelona only received the final notice from football’s world governing body on Tuesday when the decision by its Disciplinary Committee had already been made on November 28.
He defended Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, which 'develops people before footballers'.
“It’s very strange when they hold a meeting, make such an aggressive and abusive decision then send us a communique four months later. You are welcome to interpret that as you wish,” Bartomeu explained based on correspondence from FIFA.
“I would like to make it clear that Barça are in total agreement with FIFA’s rules regarding the protection of minors.
“There are unscrupulous people in this world who use minors for people-trafficking; here at Barça, you will always find a club which defends the values of education.
“Barcelona is a club which has a youth academy, La Masía, our club prides itself on excellence and our youth academy is an example of that.
“Our President Sandro Rosell wrote to FIFA’s secretary requesting that a number of players should be exempt from the provision so that they could continue their education at Barcelona. During the Club World Cup and FOOT Expo-Forum, I personally explained the merits of our youth academy, citing La Masía as a world reference in academic education and football training.”
The Barcelona president insisted that his club is not prepared to accept the FIFA sanctions after La Masia ‘has been functioning for 35 years’ and their model had been praised by FIFA itself.
“I would like to say to our club members and to the parents of those involved that we are infuriated by this decision which penalizes a model which has been functioning for 35 years and penalizes the essence of our club – a model which has been praised by FIFA,” he continued.
“Xavi, Iniesta, Messi... We take great care of our young players and are concerned about their education – one which they might not have the chance to receive in their own counties.
“Our youth academy comprises 230 children from 18 different countries. Of those children, 40 are not Spanish natives – and 18 of those are resident at La Masía. As of today, we have 80 players living in residence at La Masía.”
Barcelona had already issued a statement that they will appeal the sanctions by FIFA and if necessary take the case to the highest court, and Bartomeu was adamant in his defence of La Masia.
“We are not prepared to forgo our educational model and we will defend all of the minors on our books,” he added.
“The message we want to transmit is that La Masía cannot be touched.”
What’s your take on the sanctions, surely Barcelona cannot be the only club which has foreign minors in their youth ranks? Have your say in the comment section below.