Barcelona have confirmed that Tito Vilanova is stepping down as Coach, having suffered a second relapse in his fight against throat cancer.
Speculation on the news developed on Friday afternoon within minutes of the Catalan club calling an unscheduled Press conference for this evening, attended by President Sandro Rosell and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.
At the subsequent briefing, the duo confirmed the news that the 44-year-old tactician, who was first diagnosed in November 2011 with the disease and then saw it return in December 2012, will be permanently standing down as first team Coach to battle it once more.
“We are appearing here before you today to give you some news that I would never in my life have wanted to say and to be very, very precise, I am going to read part of it,” began Rosell to a packed Press room, which included the Barcelona first team and coaching staff sitting in the first few rows.
“After evaluating the results of routine checks this week monitoring Tito Vilanova, the option has arisen of him undergoing treatment for his illness that will make it incompatible for him to continue acting as the Coach of the first team of Barcelona.
“I would ask you for the utmost respect and privacy for Tito Vilanova and his family for what he will have to now go through.
“I would also like to confirm that Vice-President Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Zubizarreta will be presenting a new Coach early next week.”
The President also confirmed that the club have also pulled out of tomorrow’s previously scheduled opening friendly of preseason, which was due to be played in Poland against Lechia Gdansk.
“We have spoken with all of the players and decided not to go and play in Poland tomorrow, we are in no mood to do so, so the game has been suspended.
“This club has taken many blows and has always bounced back. We think of the people first and the club after.”