FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned from his position Tuesday following a contractual dispute with superstar forward Lionel Messi earlier this year.
The rest of the club’s board of directors also stepped down alongside Bartomeu, and an election will be scheduled within the next three months to appoint a new team president.
A temporary management board will oversee the day-to-day operations of the club until a new executive board is appointed.
Bartomeu opted to leave Barcelona rather than wait on club members to vote on his future in the coming weeks. He wanted to delay the vote, citing health concerns for the club’s more than 110,000 members amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But earlier Tuesday, local officials authorized the vote to take place.
“We have to act responsibly,” Bartomeu told reporters Tuesday. “For that reason we cannot hold the vote of censure in the current circumstances. It was necessary to do so in conditions that guaranteed everybody’s health. We cannot nor want to put ourselves in a position of having to choose between protecting people’s health and exercising the right to vote.
“For that reason we have taken the decision to not call the vote and resign forthwith. … It’s a thought-out, serene, informed decision to resign.”
Bartomeu, 57, took over for Sandro Rosell as Barcelona president in 2014. Bartomeu previously served as vice president to Rosell, who stepped down from his role after a lawsuit was filed accusing him of hiding the real cost of the Neymar transfer.
Following Barcelona’s Treble in the 2014-15 season, Bartomeu was re-elected on a new six-year mandate in 2015. However, his popularity decreased over the past five years after multiple issues off the pitch.
One of those issues involved Bartomeu and Messi this past summer. Bartomeu stood firm when Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, with the forward accusing him of lying and then criticizing Bartomeu’s running of the club. Messi eventually announced he would remain with the club instead of pursuing legal action to force his way out.
In April, six board members resigned due to disagreements over how the club was being run by Bartomeu.