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Rosell resignation valuable lesson for sports officials

My interface with Alexandre Rosell Feliu aka Sandro Rosell was as casual as it was brief.

The opportunity presented itself during the respected Spanish businessman-cum-sports administrator’s visit to Kenya earlier this month.

The 49-year-old’s holiday in Lamu and Maasai Mara was, however, cut short by some ambitious football fans in Nairobi.

They convinced him to preside over the official launch of a fan base of the giant Spanish club Barcelona, an occasion I was glad to attend.

The event dubbed the “Penya Barcelonista Mashariki” turned out to be the last official overseas function for Rosell as Barcelona president.

He resigned last weekend amidst allegations of irregular dealings and misappropriation of funds in relation to the transfer of Brazilian wonder-kid Neymar from Santos last June.

“I am happy to launch a supporter’s forum for Kenyans to follow our club and be part of us. I wish to remind you to adhere to our the values,”  said Rosell.

A few moments before this speech, I had a chance to carefully examine and talk to the man who was then at the helm of the second largest football club in the world in terms of earned revenue.

Barcelona’s earnings were reported to be about Sh50 billion during the last financial year.

And whether he was putting up a show for the cameras or otherwise, I observed all the qualities you would wish for in someone holding public office.

Simple. Respectful. Humble. Intelligent. Interactive. Name them, he possessed most of this qualities.

He even had lessons to share with aspiring professional footballers – never ever give up.

“I always wanted to become a professional player. The passion for sports was in my veins. But the coaches said I wasn’t good enough to earn a professional contract.

That was the turning point in my life, one that opened the road to my current work. Youngsters should not give up in any situation. When one door closes, another will open,” he said.

It is ironical though, that this transfer guru who played a big role in the signing of super-star Javier Mascherano, Alexis Sanchez, Fransec Fabregas and Ronaldinho Gaucho had his tenure at the Catalan club brought down by controversy.

What left me baffled perhaps is the way the Rosell handled the saga.  Local sports administrators need to borrow a leaf from the way he conducted himself.

Rosell opted to resign not because he was guilty, but the administrator felt he had lost the trust of a stakeholder who went to court.

Compare this with events at top flight club Gor Mahia, where officials admitted to being duped to part with a six-figure sum for the transfer of Zambian forward Julius Situmbeko. Needless to say, the officials are still in office.

Cases of sports officials  embezzling funds is nothing new in Kenya. Yet, the public and to a larger extent government, chooses to watch with indifference.

If only we had a Rossell to lead the way.