BARCELONA (Reuters) - Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of 20-times Grand Slam tennis champion Rafa, could be in line for a place on the board of Barcelona after announcing on Friday he has joined the team of presidential candidate Victor Font.
Font is the favourite to win the upcoming election, which will take place no later then next March but could be held earlier after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as president last month in order to avoid a vote of no confidence.
If Font wins the presidency, Nadal will be in charge of institutional relations and will lead a new department created to promote good behaviour among youth players.
“I’m excited and I hope to contribute to ensuring Barcelona remains the biggest club in the world and the top representative of Catalonia,” Nadal said at a presentation on Friday.
“I want to create a model in which all players, from youth level up, learn not just to play football but how to represent an institution which is second only to the regional government of Catalonia, and that brings with it a big commitment.”
Toni’s brother Miguel Angel Nadal made more than 200 appearances for Barca as a defender, playing alongside current coach Ronald Koeman in Johan Cruyff’s famous ‘Dream Team’ which won the club’s first European Cup in 1992.
But nephew Rafa is an ardent Real Madrid fan.
“I’m very aware that my nephew is a Real Madrid fan and my brother a former Barcelona player but I don’t hate our rivals,” he added.
“What I’m concerned about is Barca and that they do as well as possible, regardless of whether Rafa supports Real Madrid or Fuenlabrada.”
Nadal also said he and Font would do their best to ensure Lionel Messi remains at the club and signs a new contract before his current deal expires in June.
“We have to make a huge effort to ensure he is happy to be with us,” he said.
“It’s terrible that the best player in the club’s history wanted to leave. It shouldn’t be possible for him to be unhappy. We have to create a climate whereby he feels at ease.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.