Skip to main content

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell resigns amid Neymar row

By Chris Murphy, CNN
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona president Sandro Rosell announces his resignation Thursday
  • Rosell quits after Spanish judge agreed to hear case surrounding Neymar transfer
  • Outgoing president insists the deal was correct and calls accusations "reckless"
  • Rosell replaced as president by Josep Maria Bartomeu until elections in 2016

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has quit in the wake of a Spanish judge's decision to investigate the deal that brought Brazilian superstar Neymar to the club.

Rosell announced at a press conference Thursday he was tendering his "irrevocable resignation" after three-and-a-half years in charge of the current Spanish champions.

On Wednesday a judge agreed to hear a case centered on the $78 million transfer of Neymar from Santos in June after a complaint from one of Barcelona's own members.

Rosell vigorously asserted his innocence in front a packed media conference and described the allegations as "unfair and reckless."

Read: Pique and Shakira: 'We're a normal family'

Gerard Pique: Shakira is on my iPod
Footballer fights back after cancer
Neymar dealing with the pressure

He will be replaced by vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu who said the current board would continue until the end of their mandate in 2016.

"In recent days an unfair and reckless accusation of misappropriation has resulted in a lawsuit against me in the National Court," he told reporters -- a statement that was later reproduced on Barcelona's official website.

"From the beginning I have said that the signing of Neymar Junior has been correct and his signing has caused despair and envy in some of our adversaries."

"The Board of Directors is a team. And this team leads a project that has brought the Club great success. I don't want unfair attacks to negatively affect their management or the image of the club.

"This is why I think my time here has come to an end.

"Now, in accordance with the Club's Statutes, I have presented my irrevocable resignation of the presidency of FC Barcelona to the Board of Directors.

"From this moment, the first vice-president of the club, Josep Maria Bartomeu, will immediately assume the presidency of the club until the end of the term, through 2016, just as the Board unanimously agreed a few moments ago."

Rosell took over as president in 2010 after succeeding Joan Laporta. During his time in charge the club won the La Liga title twice and also secured the 2011 European Champions League crown.

He attracted criticism in some quarters for a huge sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation that saw the club bear a sponsor's name on their shirts for the first time.

After they signed Neymar from Santos, the club announced the deal was worth $78 million, but the breakdown of the agreement was never revealed.

From the beginning I have said the signing of Neymar has been correct and his signing has caused despair and envy in some of our adversaries
Sandro Rosell, former Barcelona president

A Barcelona member launched a case against Rosell for not disclosing the full details and the club was asked by Spanish authorities to hand over documentation, as well as accounts for the past three years.

On Wednesday judge Pablo Ruz decided an investigation should go ahead, leading to Thursday's dramatic press conference.

Rosell touched on the success Barca had enjoyed during his reign but said it had brought "very difficult moments."

"For some time my family and myself have suffered threats and attacks in silence," he said. "These threats and attacks have made me wonder if being president means having to jeopardize my family.

"In all of these years we have seen that our successes are the result of our victories on the pitch and overcoming innumerable obstacles off the pitch: political, external and, what's worse, at times the pressure has come from our own environment.

"It has been an honor to serve the Barcelonistas. It's been a privilege to be the president of FC Barcelona. I wish the best to the new president and I ask the club members to support him."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT