Messi leaving Barcelona: What is a burofax and what does it do?

Leo Messi sent Barça what's known in Spain as a burofax to tell the club he is leaving. But what is a burofax?

Leo Messi ha comunicado al Barcelona su intención de abandonar el club a través de un burofax. Qué es yqué supone para la relación entre jugador y club.

Leo Messi sent Barcelona what is known in Spain as burofax to inform the club that he had taken the decision to leave the Camp Nou.

What is a burofax?

A burofax is a service provided by Spain's Postal Service (Correos) for sending documents where it is necessary to prove that the document was delivered and also the contents of that document. It is widely used where the sender needs to be able to legally prove that the recipient received the document on a given date and what the contents were. A court of law will accept the sender's receipt of delivery as proof the document in question actually was delivered.

The fax part of the name burofax derives from facsimile, meaning an exact copy, although historically a burofax could in fact be sent by fax to the Spanish Postal Service, who would then take certified copies of the document to prove what was being sent before physically delivering the document to the recipient and sending a receipt of delivery to the sender.

Now a burofax can be sent in person at a post office or on-line on the Spanish Postal Service website.

Why did Messi use a burofax to tell Barcelona he was leaving?

Messi is relying on a clause in his contract that allowed him to unilaterally end the agreement by the end of the season. That was understood to mean by 31 May, however Messi's lawyers are arguing that the extension of the season due to coronavirus means that he had a longer period in which to break the deal.

Under this argument Messi had to tell Barcelona he was leaving before the season ended - which his lawyers are presumably arguing was the end of the Champions League, with the final being held on 23 August. By using the burofax Messi is able to prove he told Barcelona on a certain date (said to be 20 August) that he was exercising his right to break the contract.

If the matter comes before a judge, Messi's lawyers will be able to use the burofax to prove that Barcelona were notified of Messi's decision on that date, meaning Barcelona cannot argue they either did not receive the letter, or that it arrived later and therefore Messi was too late in notifying them.