Barcelona president alienates fans by making children pay

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has defended his controversial decision to force children under seven to pay for tickets to matches at the Camp Nou.

Rosell’s decision has drawn criticism from sections of the club’s support, with many feeling that it is yet another step away from the club’s ‘more than a club’ philosophy.

The decision will come into effect ahead of the upcoming Clasico fixture with Real Madrid.

The president, speaking to Radio Catalunya, argued that it was a decision that had to be made to prevent disaster given the early kick-off time of the clash with their fierce rivals:

“I am the first who is against the decision that I have taken from a popular point of view, but I had to take it due to the responsibility I have,” he said.

“I prefer a headline that says ‘Rosell does not let the kids in’ than one that says ‘Rosell has killed a kid.’ That is clear. It is one of those rules you are not necessarily in favour of, but it is the law.

“The security experts alerted us to the fact that at a Barca-Real Madrid game, instead of 15,000 children, 40,000 children could come. We could have an attendance of 140,000 spectators. It is not a problem of respecting the law, but that anything could happen in the third tier [of the Camp Nou]. It is not really a problem of the law but of security—any incident could provoke a stampede and there could be deaths. We do not want to run that risk.

“If I were that child of seven, I would not agree with the Barca president. I have also been seven years old and gone to the Camp Nou with my father. It is a tradition that has been there all the time. But it is difficult, because we have all the stadium sold out.”

This is not the first time Rossel has angered the Barcelona faithful.

His arguments with former coach Pep Guardiola and the treatment of Eric Abidal, who claimed he wasn’t paid during his recovery from a liver transplant, have alienated some. Then there is this season’s sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways – the first time the club’s shirt will be adorned by a profit-making organisation – which has not gone down well with many traditionalists.

More than a club? Perhaps not for much longer.

Iceland on threshold of glory

Arguably the story of Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifiers was Iceland reaching the play-offs for Brazil 2014.

The 1-1 draw with Norway combined with Switzerland’s defeat of Slovenia ensured Lars Lagerback’s side enter uncharted territory.

There were almost 3000 Iceland fans present in the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, which doesn’t sound a lot compared to the 30 odd thousand Poles who watched their side lose at Wembley. However, when you realise that this travelling support represented approximately 1 per cent of the country’s population, the figure takes on a new dimension. For the play-offs that support will be swelled by millions of neutrals, all hoping they can defy the odds and qualify for next year’s finals.

Anyway, if you’re wondering what it feels like to qualify for the World Cup play-offs for the first time, it looks something like this…

The cost of buying a world class striker just went up

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri has warned potential suitors that Radamel Falcao will cost £168million in the January transfer window.

Yes, that’s pounds not dollars and would double the fee Real Madrid reportedly paid for Gareth Bale during the summer.

Falcao, who only moved to Monaco over the summer, remains a key target for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho while Real Madrid confirmed they are also after the striker this week.

“He won’t come in January but in June, who knows?’ Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said last week. “Nothing is impossible and there is a lot of time between now and then.

“Falcao is a great player and I am aware that he wants to play for [Real] Madrid. I am aware of that, but it’s normal.”

But despite interest from a number of clubs, Monaco insist Falcao will not come cheap. And when you’re owned by the 13th richest man in Russia, there is clearly no need to sell.

“If Gareth Bale is €100million then how much is Falcao? He is €200million [£168million],” said Ranieri dismissively

Even for the 9th richest man in Russia, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, that would hurt. He may even have to sell one of his lesser yachts to fund that kind of deal.

Real Madrid stadium naming rights up for grabs

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has confirmed that the club is in talks over a potential naming rights deal for the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

A plan to redevelop the Bernabeu was approved by club members last year and architects have submitted four different plans which are currently being considered.

Perez told Spanish sports programme Punto Pelota: “We want to award the project later this month. There are four candidates for the improvements, and if they hurry up then we’ll see if by the summer we can start work on what will be something very emblematic for the 21st century Bernabeu.

“We are working on a sponsor. We are on with it. At best the stadium will have a name added to it if we can find one.”
Reports suggest Dubai-based Emirates Airlines are favourites to add the Bernabeu to their sponsorship portfolio, after taking over as Madrid’s chief sponsor in the summer.

The stadium was initially known as the Nuevo Estadio Chamartin, before being renamed after the club-president eight years later.

The club would be very reluctant to drop the current name , but it was suggested last year, although denied by the club at the time, that the existing stadium name could be incorporated into the new name. It was suggested last year that the stadium could be known as the ‘Fly Emirates Santiago Bernabeu’ in a deal worth over €50 million per year.

In football, sadly, everything has its price.

Quote of the Day

“He degraded the image of the national team. Although I personally was not given the resignation, I know what he needs to do, Igor is no longer the coach.” 

Croatian FA President Davor Šuker wastes little time in accepting Igor Stimac’s resignation as national coach.

Goal of the day

For the second match running, Sweden and Germany shared eight goals between them. The pick of the bunch was this stunning volley from Tobias Hysen.

Luis Suarez up to his old tricks again

An aimless ball is lobbed in the general direction of Luis Suarez during Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina. Guess what happens next…