Barcelona Players Taking A Pay Cut Is Good For Their Public Image

Oluwole Ola

Lionel Messi announced on Instagram that Barcelona players would be taking a 70 percent pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic, and will also help the club pay its workers their full wage during the hiatus from play.

Here’s the translation, from the Spanish magazine AS:

Much has been written and said about the Barcelona first team in relation to the players’ salaries during this state of alarm.

Before going any further, we want to make it clear that we were always willing to reduce our salaries because we understand perfectly that we are in an exceptional situation. We, as players, are always here to help the the club when they ask. Sometimes, we have done things on our own initiative during times when we felt it necessary and important.

It didn’t surprise us that inside the club there are some trying to put us under the microscope and pressure us into doing something that we were always clear we would do. In fact, if the agreement came a little late is it because we have been looking for the formula to help the club and also the workers of the club at this difficult time.

For our part, the moment has arrived to say that the cut will be 70% of our wage during the state of alarm. We will also help out the club in order for the workers to be paid 100% of their wages.

If we didn’t speak until now, it’s because the priority was to to find solutions to help the club and to see who the most affected were during this situation.

We don’t want to sign off without giving a massive salute and our strength to all of the cules who are going through a bad moment in these difficult times and those waiting patiently in their homes until this crisis is over. Soon, we will come out on the other side of this and we will all join together.

There had been earlier reports that suggested players had not wanted to take the pay reduction, which put them in a bad light considering the gravity of the pandemic. It painted the players as selfish in not wanting to help ease the financial burden of the club, or help pay for the low-wage workers.

Though, the responsibility to take care of those other workers should fall on the club which has much more wealth than all of the players combined. Team owners in other sports have been shamed for not paying their workers in the same way. The Barcelona players were being asked to do what the club should have done on its own, and the public demand of it put them in a position where conceding was the only real choice.

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The interesting aspect of Messi’s message is he responded to those reports as if he understood it was the club behind it. The third paragraph of his message says:

It didn’t surprise us that inside the club there are some trying to put us under the microscope and pressure us into doing something that we were always clear we would do. In fact, if the agreement came a little late is it because we have been looking for the formula to help the club and also the workers of the club at this difficult time.

It’s no secret there has been discord in Barcelona for some time, with Messi taking the mantle as the defender of himself and his teammates.

In early February of this year, Eric Abidal, Barcelona’s sporting director, suggested the firing of former manager Ernesto Valverde was the fault of some of the players, who wanted the manager out. Messi was upset by the assertion, stating he didn’t like the players being blamed for the decisions of the higher-ups. Messi also suggested if Abidal was to put the blame of the firing on the players, he should at least list the names of the players he had in mind.

This new message regarding wage reductions is another battle in the war that has developed between the board and the Barcelona players, with Messi, the team’s most important player and symbol, standing against those in power. For all of the team’s alleged bizarre tactics in trying to demonize its own players, Messi’s position in standing with his teammates and fans automatically puts the board in a losing position.

That he is being vocal in addressing the conflict creates a division between those who support him and the players, and those who support the board. The affection for Messi by millions of people around the world is a powerful and influential tool. The goodwill he has built over the years with his greatness will see many side with him over Barcelona’s board.

The alleged strategy by the Barcelona board to trash their own players publicly is a strange path to take, especially with Messi standing against them. It can only lead to disaster. If they’re successful, they end up with angry players who are fighting on the field and with their own management.

If they fail, then they’re still known as the board whose big idea was to make their own players into villains, except most of them would be unemployed as well. In the worst case, they would be known as the board who pushed Messi out of Barcelona.

The conflict between the players and the team might already be too contentious for the relationship to be saved. The fact the team’s greatest and most loyal player is making public statements against management is evidence enough of a deep fracture. Even the response to a pandemic has become another site of battle between the two sides.

It is a wonderful gesture for the Barcelona players to voluntarily reduce their wages in order to help the club and its workers, but it is also a great public relations victory. In an attempt to publicly denigrate their own players, those in power at Barcelona seem ignorant of the fact that as long as Messi is against them, there is no true victory for their plan.

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