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Luis Figo, the open wound of Barcelona


There is no transfer in the entire history of Barça more painful than that of louis figo to Madrid. Florentino Perez came to the presidency thanks to a torpedo that sent the eternal rival to the bottom of the abyss until Ronaldinho Y Joan Laporta they began to roll the virtuous circle.

Figo was the driving force and captain of Barça in 2000. He had come to the club as a rebound, after having signed, at the same time, for the Parma and the Juventus. That contractual duplicity, which could cost him a two-year ban, opened the doors of the Camp Nou for him in 1995 and was a warning of what would come five years later.

Signed for the last season of Johan Cruyff, had been the beacon of Barça ‘postcruyffista’, leading to the conquest of two Leagues, two Cups, a Cup Winners’ Cup and a Super Cup in Spain and another in Europe. “Whites, weepers, congratulate the champions”, he chanted in 1998 from the balcony of the Generalitat after the League and Cup double. Nobody could imagine that the one who would cry two years later and wear white would be the Portuguese.

His name was the most repeated in the Barça and Madrid campaigns in the summer of 2000. Florentino gave him 500 million pesetas (3 million euros) to have his electoral flag with which he could unseat Lorenzo Sanz, which in May of that year won Madrid’s eighth European Cup. The play seemed round for the Portuguese winger, since he was paid without doing anything and only had to take the airlift in the event of victory of a candidate that almost nobody considered the winner. For this reason, while the striker was waiting for the next culé president to increase his salary, he signed happily, without paying much attention to the penalty for breaching the agreement: 5,000 million pesetas (30 million euros), half of his termination clause .

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The intervention of Sandro Rosell

Sandro Rossell, who, as he tells in his book ‘Welcome to the real world’, from Nike facilitated Figo’s departure to Madrid, recommended that he do an interview with the newspaper ‘Sport’, denying everything. “I’m not crazy enough to sign for Florentino nor have I received 500 million in advance,” he sentenced. “The fans can rest easy, on the 24th I’ll be at the Camp Nou”. These claims were proven to be false when Florentino, against all odds, won the Madrid elections on July 17. Pérez had assured that if he won and Figo did not arrive at the Bernabéu he would pay the fees of all the Madrid partners (with the 5,000 million that Figo gave him for breaking his contract).

The call to Gaspart

The following week there was an appointment with the polls at the Camp Nou. “Figo will not move from Barça, Figo will move from Barça over my corpse”, he had promised during the campaign Joan Gaspartthe dolphin Josep Lluis Nunez, who on July 23 won the ‘culés’ elections. At twelve o’clock on election night Figo called him from Lisbon. “He told me: ‘I have two tickets, one to go to Barcelona and one to go to Madrid. I want to go to Barcelona but for that I want the guarantee that if I lose what my representative has signed, you will pay me'” . Gaspart replied that he should be calm, that in case he lost that dispute, the Barça club would pay. Figo then asked him for a bank guarantee to be in Barcelona the next day, something that Gaspart told him was not possible at that time. “‘Well, if it’s not an endorsement, I’m going to Madrid.’ And goodbye, very good, he went to Madrid,” the former president recalled in Movistar. When he hung up he began to think what would happen if Figo lost the lawsuit. “If I lose and pay the Madrid membership subscription for one year, it’s not that I would have taken out handkerchiefs, it’s that I would have gone to Mars from the kick that the Barça members hit me with. I scared the shit out of me.”

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The following morning Figo was presented at the Bernabéu by Florentino, together with Alfredo DiStefano, another open vein of Barcelona. “I hope to be as happy as the years I’ve spent in Barcelona”, commented the new madridista. Madrid paid the 10,000 million pesetas of its termination clause (60 million euros), which Barça squandered with the signings of the ‘gunners’ Overmars (4,500) and Petit (2,600) and from the Betic Alfonso (2,500)three failures with capital letters.

pig’s head

His return to Camp Nou was much worse than expected. “The worst will happen to me, who seems to be in the shoes of a murderer,” he said at the previous press conference, in which he twice feigned the question of whether he was a Real Madrid player. “I’m Portuguese.” “Figo, crybaby, you’re already a fucking white man,” read one of the banners at the Barça stadium, which experienced an atmosphere of hostility unheard of even in a classic. It was October 21, 2000, 89 days after he donned the Madrid shirt, he was booed as soon as he stepped onto a lawn that was filled with all kinds of objects, from banknotes with his face and the word pesetero to plastic bottles, something that was repeated two years later, in which every time he was going to take a corner, everything fell on him, including a glass bottle from JB and a piglet’s head, symbols of a wound that had not closed and that, two decades later, is still open in Barcelona .

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