Barcelona President Josep María Bartomeu on Thursday addressed "the one-year transfer ban which FIFA has dealt the Catalan club for violating rules regarding the transfer of minors," according to Santi Giménez of AS. After reading out a "timeline of all of the correspondence from FIFA, Bartomeu revealed that Barcelona only received the final notice" from FIFA on Tuesday, when the decision had been "made by the Disciplinary Committee" on Nov. 28. Bartomeu also defended the club's La Masia youth academy. Bartomeu: "It’s very strange when they hold a meeting, make such an aggressive and abusive decision then send us a communiqué four months later. You are welcome to interpret that as you wish. I would like to make it clear that Barça is in total agreement with FIFA's rules regarding the protection of minors. ... Here at Barça, you will always find a club which defends the values of education." Bartomeu added, "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. Xavi, Iniesta, Messi... We take great care of our young players and are concerned about their education." Bartomeu added that La Masia comprises 230 children from 18 countries, and 40 of those "are not Spanish natives." Bartomeu: "We are not prepared to forgo our educational model and we will defend all of the minors on our books. The message we want to transmit is that La Masía cannot be touched" (AS, 4/3). The EFE reported Barcelona VP Javier Faus "expressed indignation" at the sanctions, explaining that "what is happening is not accidental." Faus: "We will investigate who is behind all of this and when we can show it, we will." Faus said he believes that Barcelona is "a victim of a series of accusations, including doping accusations and attacks on its coaches." Faus: "Now Messi, Neymar ... They are trying to erode the image of Barça, but they will not achieve this" (EFE, 4/3).
OTHER INVESTIGATIONS: In Madrid, Moisés Llorens reported "Spanish football is the focus of FIFA's attention." Sources indicated that Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are "also being investigated." The investigations "relate to bringing in minors without meeting FIFA's requirements." Real and "Atlético both know that they are being investigated" (AS, 4/2).
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that a new team run by American businessman Gene Haas "is on track to join Formula One next year," according to Christian Sylt for the London INDEPENDENT. It will become the sport's 12th team and the first from America since the '80s. The team is run by Haas, joint owner of Stewart-Haas Racing team, which competes in the NASCAR stock car series. Ecclestone: "I think Haas will be accepted. They have got the money but it's a question of whether they are going to spend it." In addition to his stake in the NASCAR team, Haas is also the founder of leading American engineering firm Haas Automation, which has annual revenues of around $1B. It "gives him the resources to fuel his bid and he is already using it to attract top names." Günther Steiner, a former technical director of the four-time F1 champions Red Bull Racing, "is understood to be involved." Ecclestone "was initially dismissive of the bid from Haas but has been convinced that the team has the wherewithal, at least initially." Ecclestone: "A billion would last a new team owner four years. I've spoken to Haas, but I don't know what they are going to do. It's America, so I don't know." Other applications "are understood to have been filed" by former HRT head Colin Kolles and Stefan GP, a Serbian organization that bid for an entry in '10 (INDEPENDENT, 4/3).
The Qatari owners of Ligue 1 side Paris St. Germain "have now put their eyes on basketball," according to Juanma Rubio of AS. The Qatar Investment Authority has "made both the PSG football and handball clubs very competitive." Because PSG "does not have a basketball club, the more simple move would be to reach an agreement with Paris Levallois to integrate the club into PSG, possibly by acquiring a majority share in the team." Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu "recognized that the growth of the competition is moving toward entering big markets." Bertomeu: "We need to be in cities like London, Paris or Berlin for the impact this would mean." The project with Paris Levallois, "which could be a reality for the '15-16 season, is attractive for the competition because it would mean basketball's return to the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy," which has been renovated and now has a capacity of 17,000. There "are talks" of a €10M ($13.7M) investment to move Paris Levallois, which currently represents Levallois-Perret, a commune located in the northwest suburbs of Paris with a population of 70,000. Levallois-Perret Mayor Patrick Balkany said more than a year ago, "We are not going to transform the club. It is not Paris, it is not Saint-Germain, it is Levallois. I adore PSG but it will never be Levallois. Never." Recent conversations, however, "have been accelerating in the last six months and they point in a very different direction." Paris Levallois President Jean-Pierre Aubry said, "Our doors are open" (AS, 4/3).
La Liga Valencia President Amadeo Salvo "evaluated the sale process in which his club is immersed after the close of the period for bidders to present their offers," according to Conrado Valle of AS. Salvo "understandably" expressed his "frustration because 'as soon as the period opened, names of bidders and even the conditions of their offers began spreading.'" Salvo "pointed out that the process is subject to confidential contracts that have been broken." Below are excerpts from a Q&A in which Salvo discussed the sale:
Q: The identities of the seven bidders include Peter Lim and Wanda Corp. Are you distancing yourself from other investors for Valencia? Amadeo Salvo: I say the same that I said before: investors, come to Valencia. The more competition, the better. The president will go with the offer that is best for Valencia.
Q: Among the seven bids, are there any surprises? Salvo: There are talks of an Arab group, of U.S. groups, but without confirming, one has to wait. I want to make a reflection: we have to respect the seven offers. They are groups that have come to answer our call and each one presented the best offer it could. One has to evaluate them, and above all, respect them. We are making calls for investors to come to La Liga and for this, we have to demonstrate that we are serious. The release of the names of the bidders lacks professionalism toward those who are bringing the process forward.
Q: How much time should one now expect? Salvo: The period will be a maximum of three weeks and then we will determine which are deserving of passing to a higher level, which will be sent to the majority shareholder. We will go until April 20 or 21. The majority shareholder will meet 48 hours later and meet until April 23. After, we will go to a board of shareholders and this will be either May 22 or 23. It will have to be a Saturday so that more people can attend.
Q: Will the process be calm? Salvo: Valencia is being sold, so there has to be sensibility with all of this. We hope it is a clean and neat process. One part is lender Bankia, which is defending its interests and the majority shareholder (VCF Foundation) is another, which wants the best for Valencia. ... What we can't allow is for situations where a bank announces it cannot invest in football and talks of refinancing. We cannot be attached to Bankia any longer. We have to clear the debt with Bankia in the process. This would be the logical solution for Valencia. Not because the president says so -- because common sense says so (AS, 4/2).
EPL side Aston Villa will play Major League Soccer sides FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo "on a U.S. Summer tour," according to ESPN. This will be Aston Villa's seventh U.S. trip. They will face Dallas on July 23 at Toyota Stadium and Houston three days later at BBVA Compass Stadium (ESPN, 4/3).