Football superstar Lionel Messi said Barcelona’s first-team players have agreed to cut their salaries by 70 percent until the end of the state of alarm in Spain and will make contributions to the club so that its staff earn full salaries during the lockdown. The Argentinian footballer made the announcement via his Instagram.
Negotiations between Barcelona’s bosses and players on salary cuts have been going on for several days and have been widely discussed in the local media, with some reports putting the blame on the players for protracting the talks.
In his Instagram post, Messi vented his frustration at the club’s bosses, saying that the players were always willing to help.
"A lot has been written and said about the football first team at FC Barcelona, when it comes to the players’ salaries during the state of alarm, First of all, we would like to clarify that we have always been willing to apply a wage cut, because we understand perfectly that this is an exceptional situation and we are always first to help the club when we have been asked to. Indeed, we have often done so on our own initiative in those moments in which we have considered it important or necessary. For that reason, we cannot help but be surprised by the fact that from within the club there are those trying to put us under microscope or apply pressure for us to do something that we have always been clear that we would do", Messi wrote in a statement.
His letter was immediately reposted by other Barca’s stars, including Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba.
Relations between Barcelona’s players and the club have been tense for several months. In February, Messi got into a public feud with Barca’s sporting director Eric Abidal, who claimed that some players were underperforming under manager Ernesto Valverde. That same month, the radio show SER Catalunya reported that the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and the board of directors had hired a social media company that posted messages tarnishing the reputation of the club’s players, including Messi, while at the same time praising Bartomeu and other high-ranking officials.
Shortly after Messi posted his statement about salary cuts, the club released its own, saying that the whole board of directors, as well as all of its professional sports teams and most of the basketball team, have agreed to temporarily reduce their salaries amid the outbreak of coronavirus in Spain – which has resulted in the cancellation of all sports events, leading to major financial losses for clubs.
Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, and Alaves have also announced that their players have agreed to see their salaries cut.