MADRID: Barcelona have followed up their defeats in the Court of Arbitration for Sport off the pitch and by Real Sociedad on it by sacking Andoni Zubizarreta as director of football.

Simultaneously former captain Carles Puyol, appointed as assistant by Zubizarreta during the summer, has resigned.

Zubizarreta, former Bilbao hero who was Barcelona’s goalkeeper from 1986 to 1994, rejoined the club as football director in 2010. Puyol retired as a player last summer after a hugely successful career with both club and country.

A club statement said: “The FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has decided to terminate as of today the contract of the club’s director of football, Andoni Zubizarreta.

“The president, in the name of the club, thanks Andoni Zubizarreta for his contribution, dedication and professionalism over the last four years in his role at the head of the club’s football area.”

Barca are second in La Liga, still one point behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, after their 1-0 defeat by David Moyes’s Sociedad on Sunday night.

The announcement of Zubizarreta’s departure also follows the club’s defeat in the Court of Arbitration for Sport over a one-year transfer marked ban imposed for foreign player ‘cradl-snatching.’

On Facebook Puyol said: “I have concluded my working relationship with Futbol Club Barcelona. These three and a half months have given me the opportunity to see the other side of the club. I have learned a lot, I am very grateful, but I want to experience other things from another perspective and from other places.

“I want to grow both personally and professionally so that, in future, I can hopefully return to this house and give back everything you have given to me in these unforgettable years.

“I am still enormously grateful to the employees, directors, president and the football department for helping and believing in me in this period of transition which has been anything but easy.

“But above all, the fans. As a player, I always felt they were very close to me and since my retirement, even more so.

“I would like to have said goodbye to everyone with my boots on, but life doesn’t always give you what you wish for. I have been and am extremely fortunate to feel so much affection, and can only say thankyou and know that I will always hold you in my heart. Long live Barca!”

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