Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Barcagate (9) - A crucial dinner

On Monday 21 September, Barcelona marketing vice-president Jaume Ferrer was the guest of honour of a so-called 'Pa i Tomàquet amb Tertúlia' session in a private apartment, owned by Catalan business man Josep Vilallonga, at the Passeig de Gràcia, the most prestigious avenue in Barcelona.

The 'Pa i Tomàquet' sessions are hosted by four prominent Catalan figures and are described as "a dinner-gathering, around a table, enjoying a 'pa amb tomàquet', in two services, and in good company with great wine. In those reunions we treat subjects of actuality and interest, with a Guest of Honour and [a number of] other persons, carefully selected. [The objective is to] meet and to debate about subjects of actuality and interest."

The sessions, that are organized since the year 2000, are named after the typical Catalan preparation 'pa amb tomàquet' (literally: 'bread with tomato'), that consists of bread - optionally toasted - with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt.

At the 'Pa i Tomàquet' sessions, the guest of hounour can explicitly ask for confidentiality by using a sign that he has at his disposal and that has a phrase written on it that says "Que ningú no se'n recordi. I menys els periodistes"(Nobody shall remember this. And the journalists even less).

All attendants are informed at the start of the session that when this sign is shown, nobody will divulge nor publish whatever is said at that moment since it's considered to be said off-the-record. The same sign, framed into a design box, is also the gift that every guest of honour takes home as souvenir.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reports that at one point during the session in which Ferrer took part, one of the journalists who were present asked the director if it was true that he had been investigated. After having raised the off-the-record sign, Ferrer confirmed this but played down the issue.

One of the people who attended the meeting was Rafael Nadal, director of Catalan newspaper El Periódico, that broke the news on the espionage affair a couple of days later, on Thursday 24 September. Nadal told El Mundo Deportivo that he didn't break the code of silence since the newspaper was already investigating the issue for two months.

A lot of people nevertheless think that the dinner was the key moment in the publication of the espionage story. The rumour was already running through Barcelona for a while, but this confirmation by Ferrer would have been the last piece of the puzzle.

The fact that it was El Periódico that revealed the investigations is seen by some as an attempt to hinder the political ambitions of Barcelona president Joan Laporta, also because Rafael Nadal, the director of El Periódico, is the brother of Joaquim Nadal, a minister in the Catalan government for the Socialists' Party of Catalonia.

this is the ninth of ten parts on the case. the next and last part will cover the fallout of the story. you can read the whole series here.

Read the previous parts of this series:
Barçagate (1) - El Periodico breaks the news
Barçagate (2) - Emergency press conference
Barçagate (3) - New revelations in the press
Barcagate (4) - Laporta speaks about spying claims
Barcagate (5) - The vice-presidents talk (part 1)
Barcagate (6) - The vice-presidents talk (part 2)
Barcagate (7) - Content of audit reports made public
Barcagate (8) - The Ferrer report


on the first picture, jaume ferrer is the second man from the right. rafael nadal, director of catalan newspaper "el periódico", is the second man on ferrer's right hand side. on ferrer's left hand side, there's santi nolla, director of catalan sports paper "el mundo deportivo". and right in front of nolla, you have joan vehils, director of catalan sports paper "sport".


  1. No women in the room? haha.

    .. these group dynamics are representative of politics in the middle ages. A small circle of powerful "privilegiados" with all the power grabs and dirty betrayals of their class.

  2. There were some women present at other sessions, Anony. But not a lot...

  3. pep will you have details on the board meeting?

  4. You mean tomorrow's meeting, you mean, Omar?

    Well, the plan is to close later today the Barcagate series so we can now fully focus on the more daily news, so: definitely yes!

    Well, in case something happens that has an impact on the elections, of course...

  5. This series has a substantial content!
    I'm thankful to your blog because there is no other site in which I can read such inside story of Barca in English.

    Anyway, why do not only Ferrer, but this kind of people bother to take part in such sessions as a guest of honor?
    Don't they consider the risk of getting their secret that they told there revealed?
    I cannot understand their mentality of wanting to attend such meeting :-D

  6. Thanks for the compliments, sumi! If you like the blog or some story, spread the word...

    That people take part in this is probably explained by the fact that it's a good way to do some networking. You have a chance to meet new (and often influential) people during such a dinner. Or to meet "old" people in another, more relaxed atmosphere.

    As I understand it, the dinners had a good reputation as far as confidentiality is concerned. Maybe this could have changed a little now, although I guess this was a very specific case.

    people like Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Ferran Soriano have in the past also been 'guest of honour' at the "Pa i Tomaquet" sessions.