Thursday, March 11, 2010

Benedito: "The media already have their favourites"

This blog had an exclusive interview with Barcelona presidential candidate Agustí Benedito.

BUDGET You have said that you have a maximum budget of 500.000 euros for the campaign. As transparency is one of your key points: how many do you have left?
Enough to get to the finish.

What are the biggest costs for a candidate?
I'm going to explain you and I can also advance that when we will have launched our new website, we will start to implement the policy of transparency by publishing our accounts on there. The first challenge for a candidate is to break into the media because that is the main place where the electoral battle is being decided. They are crucial channels through which you can explain your project to the social mass of the club. We will have more difficulties than Sandro Rosell or the continuity candidates because the media already have their policies and interests in favour of this or that candidate. The first major expense is the collection of signatures because you have to build a very powerful organization capable of collecting around 2.000 signatures in two weeks. In addition, you have to add some costs in case you win the elections, namely the bank guarantees of all board members. That leads to a democratic deficit at the club because being president is not possible for every club member, and even less if, as is stated by other candidates, they want to create a one billion Barça. In any case, setting up a campaign like this one costs a lot. But that doesn't worry us. Many of us believe in a Barça that is close to and the heir to the best traditions of the club, and everyone who believes in this project is ready to collaborate in whatever way.

OWNERS OF THE CLUB You say that the more than 170.000 members are the owners of the club. Isn't that a limited - and an electoral - view and aren't you excluding millions of Barcelona fans that maybe aren't legal owners but nevertheless are moral owners?
On the contrary, we will propose different formulas to be linked with the club so that every person, anywhere in the world, can make a choice according to his needs. It is estimated that worldwide there are millions of fans of FC Barcelona. There is talk about the more than 176.000 members, but nobody talks about the 10.000 who don't renew their membership each year. That means that we need new ways to experience the club. Everybody has his place in the Barcelona family and we have to propose ways that allow everyone to join in.

CATALAN IDENTITY You want Catalonia to be independent?
I have my personal opinion, but as president of Barça, that opinion would have no value at all, just because I think the position should not be used to do politics. And do not get me wrong, nobody can diminish, not even with an inch, the Catalan character of FC Barcelona, which is part of the essence of the club, but in the Barcelona family all opinions have a place. In fact, my team is a reflection of this heterogeneity of the social mass of the club. Regardless of individual political ideas, I want to be the president of all Barcelona fans.

PACTS You have said that you will not close a deal with anyone and that you are convinced that you will pass the signatures' cut. What would you do if in the end you don't obtain the necessary signatures and all other candidates (Ferrer, Godall, Guixà, Rosell) offer you a compromise? To whom do you feel closest, in terms of personality and/or club model?
I am convinced that we will get enough signatures, so I don't even consider to strike a deal, nor do I feel close to any of the other candidacies. I think we have a project that is different from the others, which has a significant support and which we want to share with the rest of the Barcelona fans.

PARTCIPATION IN THE ELECTIONS The participation of club members is a cornerstone of your project. Do you want to introduce online voting, voting by mail and/or voting by delegation?
Any instrument that increases the participation is positive for us, if you comply with all democratic guarantees. Voting by mail or through the internet is already used for years and without any problem by professional organizations and other institutions. A key element of our project is the involvement of the club member. We for example believe that the Assembly of Delegates must have a real and effective representativeness. We also offer tools to increase the responsibility of the members.

SPORTS AREA You do not want to continue with Txiki Begiristain as sports director. Why?
Txiki Begiristain has his share of responsibility in the team's sporting successes, but as is the case with the president, I think he has come to the end of a cycle and we will not count on him if we would win.

You have also suggested that you want to remodel the current structure (sports vice-president – sports director – coach) a bit but that you are going to discuss your plan with the current coach, Josep Guardiola. At the press conference after his verbal renewal, Guardiola has said that he does not want more power and that he would like Txiki Begiristain to continue. What if Guardiola opposes your restructuring plans or if there's no 'feeling' between him and the people responsible of the sports area of your candidacy? Or if Guardiola simply asks to continue with the current structure, including Begiristain, and to only change the sports vice-president?
We have an idea about the sports structure that includes some differences from the current model, but like the other candidates, we first want to talk with Guardiola. I'm sure we will reach an agreement with him regarding the sports structure.

INTERNATIONALIZATION You share the analysis that Barça can not grow a lot anymore in Catalonia or Spain while at the same time in other parts of the world there's an almost unlimited potential of fans and that this is why the club - apart of course from taking care of the roots - needs to have a more global focus? You have a plan to make Barça grow abroad?
Barca can grow, there's no doubt about that. Barça is the most feared team on the pitch, and should become the most loved club in the world. The key is to facilitate the relationship of the Barcelona fans with the club, according to their needs. Moreover, we need to recover traditional supports we had in Spain and that we are losing because of the actions of the current board.

Many thanks for this interview and good luck in the campaign.

this was the second and last part of this interview. you can read the first part here. you can read an exclusive interview with barcelona presidential candidate jaume guixà here.

Read more:
Benedito putting emphasis on financial transparency
Ferrer has biggest media impact
Benedito: "I don't plan to announce transfers"


  1. Pep,

    Hats off to you for the incisive line of questioning. This is very well thought-out stuff.

    Benedito answers with discretion and does his best not to commit himself.

  2. Questions are far better than in newspaper interviews.

  3. thanks, kabum!

    the difference is of course that newspapers do one interview, so in that interview the journalists should "introduce" the candidate to the readers, which means starting from scratch, with basic questions.

    in this blog we have already published several of those newspapers interviews (plus some other news) so i suppose the readers have already some background on the candidate and we shouldn't repeat ourselves.

    so we can do something a bit different but on the other hand you're then arriving in the "no man's land" between what everybody has already asked and what the candidate doens't want to tell yet.

    think there are some good statements between the lines in this interview. and the most "exlusive" ones were the fact that benedito plans to put his campaign accounts online and that he was involved in the appointment of basketball coach xavi pascual. two interesting informations i didn't hear/read before.