The three young gents you see in the photo above are Sergi Guardiola, Moisés, and Xemi, all new Barcelona players whose signings were announced just a few hours ago. They were supposed to shore up the reserve team. “Supposed to” is the operative phrase there, since Guardiola—no relation to Pep—has already been dropped by the club after internet sleuths drudged up some old pro-Real Madrid, anti-Catalonia tweets of his.
Thanks to the two-window transfer ban, Barcelona haven’t been able to add much in the way of reinforcements over the past year to the first team and the B team, which plays in the Spanish third division. With the January window offering the first opportunity to make some moves, the club first sought to solidify the Barça B squad with hopes of getting them back in the second tier after they were relegated last season.
Today’s transfer activity had been rumored for awhile now, but the moves were only made official earlier today. The players signed their contracts and shook hands with club officials in the typical new signing photo shoot, which is where the photo above comes from. The page confirming this on the club’s website, though, which once was here, has been deleted. (You can see the cached version here.) That’s because only hours after announcing the signing, Barça rescinded Guardiola’s contract.
The impetus was a few tweets where Guardiola expressed not only his abiding Real Madrid fandom, but also insulted Catalonia. Here are some of the since-deleted tweets:
Real Madrid probably wouldn’t be able to field a team if being a fan of the other half of the Clásico rivalry ruled a player out of contention, so the “Hala Madrid” exhortations—a popular Madridista saying that basically means “Let’s go Madrid!”—aren’t all that concerning.
The most damning phrase you see repeated in the offending tweets is “puta cataluña,” which means “Fuck Catalonia.” For all kinds of reasons, both historical and current, being anti-Catalonia, even if in an off-handed way, is not going to fly in Barcelona. And in that last tweet, he says that he wouldn’t have Lionel Messi in his team because all he does is walk around, which hurts the team’s play. This is actually pretty funny banter in how it reveals the depths of his anti-Barça sentiment.
After these tweets made the rounds, the club quickly decided that Guardiola’s place at the club was no longer tenable and terminated his contract. Their site’s new page about these moves, announcing only the Moisés and Xemi signings, has eliminated all references to Guardiola, save this disclaimer at the end:
FC Barcelona has decided to terminate the contract signed with Sergi Guardiola, after finding that he had published offensive tweets about the club and Catalonia.
For his part, Guardiola has deleted the tweets and made his account private. As of right now, his avatar remains a picture from the Barça photo shoot of his smiling face alongside two Barça officials, all of them standing in front of the Catalan flag.
Update [Dec. 29]: Earlier today, Guardiola appeared on a popular Spanish sports TV show to explain his side of the story. For the most part, he owned up to what he called “a mistake” and expressed remorse and understanding of Barça’s response. But he later went on to claim that he wasn’t actually the author of the offending tweets. From Sport:
However, he also wanted to make clear that he “didn’t write those tweets.”
“It is a mis-understanding. It was in 2013 and I didn’t even know they existed,” he added.
“It was put on my profile, but it wasn’t me. I ask for forgiveness a thousand times - I have learnt a difficult lesson.”
This seems to be the tried and true (though never actually true) “I was hacked!” excuse. So did someone take control of Guardiola’s—and remember, this is a career-long lower division player, not exactly a prominent sports personality you’d think a hacker would target—page, send but a handful of mostly unobjectionable tweets, then leave the account alone? Did he have a buddy that he’d watch big Real matches with who had a penchant for grabbing Guardiola’s phone and firing off some “Puta Cataluña” tweets? Likely story.
Guardiola really went about this the wrong way. Rather than backtracking, he should’ve puffed out his chest and played up the troll role. He probably could’ve laughed his way out of Barcelona and right into some kind of position, playing or otherwise, with his favorite club. Lord knows they could use some help in the banter department.