Barcelona, 8 March 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Joan Laporta was elected Barcelona president for a second time on Sunday as club members voted him in to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Laporta, 58, beat Victor Font and Toni Freixa to become the club’s president for a second time. He was previously in charge between 2003-2010.
“Joan Laporta (is the) new president of FC Barcelona,” said the club on their Twitter account.
Laporta earned 30,184 votes (54.28 per cent) with Font second on 16,679 votes (29.99 per cent) and Freixa third on 4,769 votes (8.58 per cent).
Barcelona said 51,765 members voted from an eligible 109,531.
“I’d like to thank all the club members who have participated in these elections, who make us more than a club, and I think they are the most important elections in the club’s history,” said Laporta in his victory speech.
“We will bring happiness back to Barcelona fans, we will overcome the difficulties. The fans will continue to be the owners of this club.”
Bartomeu stepped down from the role in October 2020 as he faced a vote of no confidence from club members, with elections called for January but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Laporta inherits the club with gross debt of around 1.2 billion euros (1.4 billion dollars), and ahead of Lionel Messi’s contract expiring in the summer, meaning the star player can walk away for free.
Messi, 33, voted in the election, along with team-mates including Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Riqui Puig, while former president Bartomeu also voted to choose his successor.
Bartomeu was detained by police earlier this week as part of an investigation into the “Barcagate” social media scandal, relating to a company hired to monitor the club’s online presence.
“Let’s go to Paris and see if we can turn it around,” said Laporta as he celebrated his victory at Camp Nou, referring to Barcelona‘s Champions League last 16-second leg clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, after a 4-1 defeat at home in February.
During his first reign, Barcelona won six trophies in 2009 with Pep Guardiola as manager, with that side widely considered to be one of the best teams of all time.