¡Visca Barça! ¡Visca Catalunya! ¡Visca Me!

Just before Christmas, the proud people of Spain gave the recession the finger, downed tools and aren’t due to pick them up again until next week with the Three Magic Kings business still to come.

But on the topic of tools, an outspoken one who has bucked local trends and been the busiest of beavers is the King of Catalunya, Joan Laporta. 

The Barcelona president was on display at the Club World Cup looking tremendously pleased with himself after a remarkable performance where he both managed his side and scored the winning injury-time strike.

“I have presided over the best period in Barça’s history,” boasted the blustery bigwig at his glorious tickertape return to his Kingdom of Catalunya.

Laporta, unable to take part in the upcoming presidential elections due to niggling term limits, instead anointed current Barcelona VP Alfons Godall as the club’s "continuity candidate" (human hand-puppet).

Joan then had to resist his most basic instincts to avoid responding to a taunt from Sevilla president José María del Nido, who warmed things up nicely ahead of Tuesday’s Copa del Rey clash by noting that “the Murcian, Galician, and Basque who is also a culé must feel embarrassed by the Catalanism that Laporta spouts.”

Unfortunately, the news breaking just before Christmas that another VP, Jaume Ferrer, was also going to stand in the elections was greeted in a less calm manner, with radio channel Cadena Ser claiming that Laporta went totally gaga and called Ferrer “a sh*t”.

“It’s between myself and him and our dirty washing should not be aired in public,” said Ferrer, who did not deny that the altercation took place.

Unlike Godall, Ferrer was one of the directors spied upon in a ‘security audit’ last year and is expected to split the status-quo vote in the presidential poll.

This split gives room for Laporta’s sworn enemies Ferran Soriano and Sandro Rosell, to whom he referred (without naming them directly) as ‘spoilt children’ during an interview with El Mundo.

But that wasn't the really big bombastic news to come out of the chat with the newspaper.

That was Laporta’s announcement that he would be moving into politics when his time at the Camp Nou is up.

This statement of intent has come as a surprise to no one, as the Barcelona president has never been shy in using (or abusing, say many fans) his role at the club to make regular proclamations on the future of the Catalan state and - more importantly - the future of Joan Laporta’s career.

“I’m tempted to stand in the Generalitat [local parliament] with a new party,” admitted Laporta, who has so far been firmly rebuffed in his advances to join existing parties – parties who have always been jealous of Laporta’s considerably higher profile born of his Camp Nou role.

“Politics doesn’t need redeemers, nor martyrs, not messiahs,” sniffed Joan Ridao, Secretary General of local party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya.

Ciudadanos spokesman Jordi Cañas was equally forthright and said that “using Barcelona as a political platform seems repugnant to me.”

However, local political opposition won’t be a problem for a bullish Laporta who claimed that he “wants to know if a million people who want an independent Catalan state will follow me.”

If the response in the local sporting press is any guide then the answer is a firm ‘no’.

A Sport editorial from Martí Peramau compares Laporta’s political ambitions and tactics to those of an early Silvio Berlusconi, while warning him that “a multitude of young people and not so young idolise him now, but a year-and-a-half ago they wanted him out of Barcelona.”

Mundo Deportivo have given ranting space to the tremendously peeved online director of Catalan broadsheet La Vanguardia.

And Lluís Fox is very unhappy indeed, perhaps because Laporta chose to make his announcement in a right-wing 'Madrid newspaper'.

“[The interview] was all about the leader, the redeemer, the Messiah, the saviour of the homeland,” complains Fox, who argues that the roles as Barça president and political candidate are incompatible.

“He has usurped the feelings of hundreds and thousands of Barcelonistas for the service of a personal political cause.”

Mundo Deportivo deputy editor F. Perearnau also goes on the attack and blasts Laporta for choosing an ‘enemy’ ‘Spanish’ paper for his interview: it's “strange, disconcerting and suspicious.”

Whilst Laporta mulls over the less than enthusiastic response to the announcement of his political ambitions, his club are facing Sevilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey clash - a clash that is taking place at 10pm at the Camp Nou on a day dedicated to Spain’s youngest citizens.

“It goes against the basic rights of children,” complains J.M. Artells in Mundo Deportivo, “and it is to the detriment of the players. But who cares?”

Joan Laporta certainly does. Especially if it will win him a vote or two in the years to come.

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