In shocking news coming out of Spain yesterday, former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell reportedly purchased a liver for ex-Barcelona left-back Éric Abidal. The story dates back to 2012 when Abidal, 32 at the time, had a tumour discovered on his liver. According to El Confidencial, the Spanish publication that originally reported the story, Rosell illegally bought a liver to replace Abidal’s cancerous liver.
Now Barcelona’s technical secretary, Abidal responded swiftly and concisely to the usual allegations. In a statement from his own Twitter account, Abidal declared, “My cousin Gerard donated his liver to save my life and for this I am truly grateful to him. Existing procedures and protocols were followed at all times and all the medical documentation that proves so is available.”
Nevertheless, the legitimacy of said donation by Abidal’s cousin was called into question by El Confidencial’s story. The report claims that both the Spanish Civil Guard and National Police overheard four phone calls from Sandro Rosell during which he discussed purchasing a liver for Abidal.
Abidal’s employers, FC Barcelona, took offence to the reports from the Spanish press, refuting all claims via a post on fcbarcelona.com. In the official announcement, Barcelona vehemently denied the circulating rumours, adding, “The club are saddened by the lack of rigor in the spreading of such information about such a sensitive issue.” The website post also mentioned that the facility in which the operation took place, the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, further denied any “irregularity.”
While the allegations may sensationalise the issue, they are rooted in some amount of truth. BBC Sport reported that a case against ex-President Rosell for an illegal purchase of an organ was closed on May 18th. The information provided to BBC Sport by the Catalan Justice Department also included the fact that investigation did not produce any charge against Rosell.
The peculiar reports flooding the internet have caused quite the news story, and it is not hard to imagine why. Outside of its accusatory claims, El Confidencial’s story has also gained momentum due to Sandro Rosell’s reputation. Rosell is not a man without controversy, having already been called to trial over a money laundering scheme he allegedly played a part in. The scheme involved the sale of TV rights for the Brazilian national team, and Rosell is currently in custody because of it.
While nothing may come out of this story, it is at the very least a distraction for FC Barcelona and Abidal. The swirling rumours will certainly impede the former left-back’s transition into his new role as technical secretary, a job he took just last month.