- La Liga
Barcelona president Rosell confirms resignation
Sandro Rosell is resigning as Barcelona's president, a day after a judge agreed to hear a lawsuit accusing him of allegedly hiding the cost to acquire Neymar.
Rosell said current vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu will take the top role at the Camp Nou through 2016, by agreement of the board of directors.
"I am resigning irrevocably," Rosell told reporters.
Barca and Rosell have so far always maintained that they paid "just" €57 million to sign Neymar from Santos in the summer, while others suggest the deal was for as much as €95m and the player and his family have received €51m in various fees and commissions.
The issue became increasingly serious this week after it was confirmed that a Madrid court had accepted a petition from Barca socio Jordi Cases to look into the transfer, launching a formal investigation amid claims that different versions of the contracts involved exist.
"I have always said that the signing of Neymar is correct and has sparked jealousy," Rosell said on Thursday. "This board [of directors] is a team and this team leads a project that has been successful. My stage is over and I am presenting my resignation to the board. Bartomeu will be in charge of the presidency as the board has voted unanimously. I wish him the best and I ask you to support him."
Bartomeu told the media he will hold a news conference on Friday to reveal details about the future and added: "We are going to be very firm in the defence and demand the utmost respect for our club."
There is no suggestion that any Barcelona executive personally benefited from the complex Neymar deal, but Rosell and other club executives could potentially be called to testify in a Madrid court, and tax authorities in Spain and Brazil are likely to be following the proceedings closely.
Rosell was elected president by the club members in 2010 after Joan Laporta served two consecutive terms. He was expected to run for reelection in 2016. The last president to resign from Barcelona was Joan Gaspart in 2003.