Skip to main content

Defiant Barcelona 'votes for the future'

By Gary Morley, CNN
April 6, 2014 -- Updated 2120 GMT (0520 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona's members approve plan for $725M redevelopment of Camp Nou stadium
  • Club's first referendum since 1950 follows team's 3-1 victory at home to Real Betis
  • Results leaves second-placed Barca a point behind Champions League opponent Atletico Madrid
  • Both Madrid clubs win on Saturday to keep La Liga title race in the balance

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Barcelona's immediate footballing fortunes may be in some doubt, but the Spanish club's members voted Saturday to approve a proposal aimed at securing its long-term future.

Involved in a tense La Liga title race, locked in a Champions League battle with Atletico Madrid, facing a transfer ban due to alleged irregularities involving the signing of youth players, plus a tax investigation over the murky deal to buy Neymar -- it has been a testing season for the Catalan outfit.

And the reaction has been one of defiance.

Before Saturday's 3-1 win at home to Real Betis, a big flag in the Camp Nou stated "Don't touch La Masia" -- a response to FIFA's punishment for infringing transfer rules relating to players under the age of 18.

Barca's famed academy has produced a conveyor belt of talent, but the "Espai Barcai" proposal is deemed to be just as important to the team's continued success.

Some 118,000 members were called to vote after the Betis match in the club's first referendum since 1950, when it was decided to leave the Corts stadium and build a new one -- the Camp Nou.

The turnout was not quite that high -- just under a third of the total.

More than 27,000 members approved plans for a $725 million revamp that will extend the ground's capacity to 105,000 people and develop the surrounding areas. Just over 9,500 voted against.

The project is due to start in 2017 and be completed four years later, including the creation of a 12,000-capacity multi-sports pavilion and 5,000 new parking spaces.

"The members were voting for the future of this club," said president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who was appointed after Sandro Rosell stood down in the wake of the Neymar revelations -- the club later paid an extra $18.5 million in taxes after being hit with fraud charges.

"Days like today are when the world sees what FC Barcelona is and means," he added.

"The support for the New Espai Barça proposal has been extraordinary. It's a huge project that will improve the club for years to come."

Saturday's win on the pitch kept Barca a point behind Atletico with six games to play, ahead of Wednesday's second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal at Vicente Calderon, with the score 1-1.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 15th minute after Alexis Sanchez was tripped by Jordi Figueras, who in the second half diverted Adriano's pass into his own net.

Substitute Ruben Castro immediately reduced the deficit but Messi netted his 25th league goal this season after his 86th-minute penalty was blocked by goalkeeper Adan.

FIFA hits Barcelona with transfer ban

Atletico stayed top with a 1-0 win at home to Villarreal thanks to Raul Garcia's first-half header -- his 16th goal this season.

Third-placed Real Madrid remained two points behind Barca following a 4-0 win at Real Sociedad, who stayed sixth.

With star player Cristiano Ronaldo injured, record signing Gareth Bale took center stage with an opportunist long-range strike to put Real 2-0 up after Asier Illarramendi's opener.

Pepe then volleyed in from fellow defender Sergio Ramos' headed pass, while Angel Di Maria sent substitute Alvaro Morata clear to wrap up a comfortable win ahead of the Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund, with Real holding a 3-0 advantage.

In Italy, Inter Milan's hopes of qualifying for the second-tier Europa League suffered a blow as striker Diego Milito missed a penalty in Saturday's 2-2 draw at home to struggling Bologna.

It meant Walter Mazzarri's fifth-placed team have not won for the past four Serie A matches.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain guaranteed another season in the Champions League with a 3-0 win at home to Reims which put the Ligue 1 titleholder 16 points clear of second-placed Monaco with six games to play.

Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani made up for the absence of injured star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic by opening the scoring just before halftime, while Algerian defender Aissa Mandi netted two own-goals after the break.

Read: Barca to appeal 'unjust' ban

Read: Barcelona becoming 'Less of a Club?'

Read: Advantage Atletico in quarterfinal?

Read: Revenge for Real Madrid

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