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El Presidente? How Gerard Pique wants to bring "the Bayern Munich model" to FC Barcelona

“If you can’t beat em, join em!” — Gerard Pique, probably

FC Barcelona v UD Almeria - LaLiga Santander Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It has long been known that Gerard Pique has ambitions to become president of FC Barcelona one day. Now, with his retirement from football, concrete details about that presidency are starting to come to light. Interestingly, Bayern Munich seems to feature heavily in Pique’s plans, per a detailed report by Sport’s Ernest Folche.

Before we get into this, there’s something readers need to understand about FC Barcelona and its relationship with the Spanish media. Unlike in Germany, where Bayern are simply a source of gossip and headlines for major news outlets, Barcelona is a political institution with multiple factions vying for control of the club. Therefore, media outlets that cover Barca also have their own political agendas, with journalists are known to have connections to these factions.

So the following report is less likely to be an honest scoop from an independent journalist, but a narrative manufactured by Gerard Pique’s political faction (if such a thing exists — it has to, right?). Still, its contents are intriguing, at least from a Bayern perspective.

The Plan

FC Barcelona v UD Almeria - LaLiga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Gerard Pique wants to be in charge of FC Barcelona, and he’s targeting the 2027 elections to do so. Everything he has done in the twilight years of his career has been in service to that goal.

All of Pique’s moves are calculated to produce maximum political capital. His sending off at the hands of Gil Manzano in his final game as a Barca player was completely intentional — done to show the Catalan faithful that he would always defend the club in any circumstance.

His farewell speech made no direct mention of either Xavi or Laporta, and his first public appearance following retirement was with internet streamer Ibai Llanos, rather than the club president. Laporta has reportedly been unsuccessful in his attempts to organize a joint press conference with the Barca legend.

Pique’s moves make sense as a concerted effort to distance himself from the current political establishment at the club. This is the important part — Pique believes, or wants us to believe, that football belongs to footballers. His eyes are on the Bayern Munich model, where former club legends such as Uli Hoeness, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Oliver Kahn are placed in key board positions following retirement.

Members of Barcelona’s “golden generation” apparently want to see that same model adopted at their club, where former players are the ones in charge of all key decisions. Inside the club’s dressing room, the idea has apparently taken hold that those in charge lack sufficient football knowledge. This is seen as the source of Barca’s recent woes.

Pique allegedly not only wants power for himself, but also to transform the club’s management into a “Futbolistacracy” where renowned ex-players hold all the important positions in the board, rather than non-footballing people.

The problem

The idea, of course, that Bayern Munich are run purely by “football people” at the top is complete fiction. While ex-players like Uli Hoeness, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Oliver Kahn, and co. often make the headlines, they are obviously supported by a robust cadre of equally senior and non-football oriented executives.

Current club president Herbert Hainer has no pro-footballing background, but he was the CEO of Adidas from 2001 to 2016. Dr. Michael Gerlinger, a lawyer by profession, is a key name in every single big transfer negotiation at the club, and the head of Bayern’s legal department. He is also the Vice-President of the European Club Association (ECA). Club CFO Jan-Christian Dreesen completed a banking apprenticeship and studied business management before his current role at Bayern.

Basically, Pique’s manifesto presents an overly romanticized view of the structure that has made Bayern Munich so successful in modern football. Of course, that’s by design — it’s a simplistic narrative made to appeal to voters in the next club election. However, fundamentally, a big football club like Barca (or Bayern) is an institution with several moving parts.

While a club may benefit from some extra “football” voices at the top, you can’t realistically have an institution that is presided over, trained, and run only by ex-football people. The vast majority of elite footballers know little about the sport beyond kicking a ball, shown when they try to transition to new roles after retirement. How many ex-players would you trust with anything more complex than a bit of punditry? You still need lawyers and bankers and businesspeople in the decision-making process.

Pique is obviously smart enough to know this — he is a successful businessman as well as a footballer. However, presenting a “football first” narrative is an obvious vote-winner for him, so he will go with it. It not only earns him the support of the Catalan fanbase, who doubtless remember (or at least romanticize) the club’s triumphs under Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, but it also gains him vocal backing from ex-players who may be eyeing a job at their former club.

It’s an ingenious ploy, and linking the model to a proven system like Bayern Munich, who have been a thorn in Barca’s side recently, only makes it more appealing. We will have to see if Pique 2027 actually becomes a thing or not, but the developments at FC Barcelona seem fascinating from a neutral perspective.

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