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BARCELONA

Who is Albert Soler ex-General Sports Director for Spain, who worked for Barcelona until 2021?

The Catalan worked for Barcelona and the Spanish government at various moments in his 30-year sports career.

The Catalan worked for Barcelona and the Spanish government at various moments in his 30-year sports career.
Twitter @deportegob

Albert Soler is a very well-known Catalan politician who worked as General Director of Sports for the Superior Council of Sports in the Spanish government (CSD in Spanish) and as Institutional Sports Director for FC Barcelona.

The importance of Soler has resurfaced because of Barcagate. The close relationship between the ex-Director of Sports and the Catalan team regarding a 2022 Spanish Sports Law that leaves Barcelona off the hook if found guilty of any wrongdoing in the case involving paying an ex-vice-president of referees Enrique Negreira 1,4 million euros for reports on all La Liga refs while he was directly in charge of them has come to attention.

Soler was brought to the team by ex-Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and left this position in 2021 when he returned to work as General Director of Sports for the Superior Council of Sports in the Spanish government.

Albert Soler right and ex-Barcelona president Bartomeu left
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Albert Soler right and ex-Barcelona president Bartomeu leftAS English

The 2022 Sports Law and the connection with Soler as Director of Sports for the Superior Council of Sports

In 2022 the Spanish government signed into law a new sports decree. This law is directly tied to the Barcagate because it has a provision that states in article 112 that the statutes of limitation for severe infractions in sports law have no bearing after three years.

This means that the infraction which stopped in 2018, if the investigation deems that there was one in the first place, would no longer affect the Catalan team, and thus, it cannot be punished by La Liga. President Javier Tebas already made a statement claiming so.

As for the conspiracy arising that Soler changed the law to protect the club, this is not entirely true. The three-year statute of limitation was already in place since 1990 when the first sports law came to pass. So Soler did not work to change this part of the new 2022 sports law.

Soler has been asked to testify by the prosecutors office about his involvement with Barcelona and the payments to ex-vice-president of referees Enrique Negreria. The ex-Barca director claims the reports existed but that he had nothing to do with the payments to Negreira. And that it was all done through another division of the team.

There are questions into whether Soler knew of the probe against Barcelona and whether he knew that the team was paying the ex-vice president of referees the 1,4 million euros they are being investigated for. And if he did know, why didn’t he disclose this situation when returning to his old position and letting the statute of limitation take place?

But who is the Catalan Albert Soler, and how did he become important to this case?

Albert Soler’s career began as a functionary for the City of Barcelona, where he climbed up the ladder in various roles related to sports management for the city. He is an active member of the Socialist Party (PSOE) in Spain. Due to his political activism and his work in sports since 1999, ex-President Zapatero appointed him General Director of Sports for the Superior Council of Sports.

Moreover, in 2011 he was named president of the CSD with the rank of Secretary of Sports for the State. He worked in this position for six months when he resigned to opt for a position in the Spanish Parliament as a member of PSOE. He left his role in Parliament in 2014 and joined FC Barcelona as Institutional Sports Director, later becoming Director of Professional Sports at FC Barcelona.

Once Laporta won the elections, Soler went back to the Spanish government in 2021.

While with Barcelona, he was directly involved in the signings of these players:

  • Arda Turan
  • Aleix Vidal
  • Denis Suárez
  • Samuel Umtiti
  • Lucas Digne
  • André Gomes
  • Jasper Cillessen
  • Paco Alcácer
  • Nélson Semedo
  • Gerard Deulofeu
  • Paulinho Bezerra
  • Ousmane Dembélé
  • Ernesto Valverde

In 2023 he left his post in the Spanish government under allegations of working closely with the La Liga president Javier Tebas to impede the Super League from forming. Soler cannot hold any role dealing with sports in the Spanish country due to a law prohibiting public figures from having functions of power for at least two years after leaving their position.

La Liga president Javier Tebas center and Albert Soler left next to him
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La Liga president Javier Tebas center and Albert Soler left next to himAS English