He was in prison for almost two years, along with his business partner and friend Joan Besoli, before he was finally absolved. His provisional freedom was denied him three times in a case within the Spanish legal system without precedents. He is sure it's all because he was the president of FC Barcelona... and Catalan during a complicated political-social moment.
Sandro Rosell has now released a book, Un fuerta abrazo, on his 645 days in prison. Finally, he and Besoli were declared innocent. The money raised from his book will go to the Pade Paulino Foundation and to the assistance of inmates that don't have the same resources he did. SPORT have spoken with Rosell from his home in Barcelona. About himself and Barça. Here's the first part:
In your book you say it's a miracle that Barça are still the best club.
Barça's success since 2004 has been brutal and that annoys a lot of people. The worst thing is that people from 'casa nostre' even feel bad.
Does good Barça news have to be covered up?
The national television channels, when there's really good news about Barça, pull out something negative afterward. I understand it when it's in Madrid. Now, that 'our' [media] do it... I don't understand it.
Do you mean TV3?
The other day they said that if Barça lost to Atletico, they would sack Setien. The club called TV3 on Bartomeu's behalf to say that it was a lie. And they didn't rectify it. We're giving arnica to Madrid.
Is Bartomeu to good a person to be Barça president?
Yes, because to be Barça president you have to have a little more or a mean streak.
Why did you leave Barça?
For my mum. And for the Neymar case. I was called a coward for how I resigned. That's this country. They say no one quits when they're accused. And then I did, and they still criticise me.
Are you disappointed Jordi Cardoner doesn't want to be continuist candidate for the board?
I am not annoyed because it's respectable (his decision). We all thought he should have been the continuist candidate.
The board has no candidate for 2021.
It's the first time in history that something like this has happened at Barça.
A lot of people say you're behind Jordi Roche…
I am not behind him, that's not true. The only truth is that he's my friend.
You have said you won't intervene in the elections.
I will only do so if I see that behind a candidate is a political or media group. The president must be independent.
Are you worried about the club's situation currently?
Relatively, because Barça have a huge capacity to generate resources and income. They could improve the club's treasury.
How do you see Barça in the short to medium-term?
As an entity, we have to evolve towards a model of 'mas club.'
What are you referring to?
Barça is too many things. We have to sit down and analyse in-depth if we really need all the professional teams across all sports, the amateur teams, the Foundation...
Things that make Barça different to other clubs…
If we don't, we will lose out. We can't encompass everything. And everything that is not football makes us lose out competitively against Europe's biggest clubs, that only focus on football.
That's the big debate.
We have to sit down, talk about it an explain it in an Assembly and, if necessary, have a referendum. Someone has to be brave enough to do it.
I know it's uncomfortable. The easy thing is cheap demagogy and go against this debate, but it has to be done.
Do you see Joan Laporta as president again?
I would tell him, with all my affection, that our time has passed. The era Laporta-Rosell-Bartomeu is amortised.
A curiousity: Did Pep Guardiola ever show an interest in your situation?
No, never. I gave him his first contract with Nike and it surprised me because he negotiated it and signed it himself.