Gigi Becali


Gigi Becali

Infobox Person
name = George Becali


image_size = 200px
caption = George Becali
birth_date = birth date and age|1958|6|25
birth_place = Zagna, Vădeni, Brăila County, Romania
death_date =
death_place =
ethnicity = Aromanian
nationality = Romanian
residence = Voluntari, Ilfov County
occupation = Entrepreneur and politician
religion = Romanian Orthodox Christian
education = Number 13 High School, Bucharest
party = New Generation – Christian Democrat Party

George Becali (commonly known in Romania as Gigi Becali, born 25 June, 1958) is a controversial Romanian politician and businessman, mostly known for his involvement in the Steaua football club.

Biography

He was born in Zagna, Vădeni, Brăila County, as his family was deported to the Bărăgan by the Communist authorities because of their associations with the pre-WWII fascist Iron Guard.

His cousins, Victor Becali and Ioan Becali, are also involved in Romanian football. In 1994, he married Luminiţa, 11 years his junior; the couple have three daughters: Teodora (b. 1996), Alexandra (b. 1997) and Cristina (b. 2001).

After the 2005 floods, he funded with $4 million the rebuilding of about 200 houses in the "Vulturul" village (Vadu Roşca commune, Vrancea county) that was destroyed by the overflow of the Siret river. Subsequently the villagers wanted to rename it "Vulturul Becali" in his honor.

Entrepreneurship

Real estate business

Becali became a millionaire through an exchange of land with the Romanian Army, dubbed by the Romanian press as suspicious, as the Army did not need the land it received and the land he received was worth much more.

The deal consisted in Becali giving the army a 21.5 ha plot in Ştefăneştii de Jos (about 15 km from Bucharest) in exchange for a 20.9 ha plot in Băneasa-Pipera, in Northern Bucharest. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.expres.ro/articole/detalii-articol/675776/Gigi-Becali-revine-la-mahala/ "Gigi Becali revine la mahala"] , 2 March 2005] As the real estate prices skyrocketed in the capital, he sold the land to some companies which built residential areas.

In 2007, it was revealed that in 1998, when Becali sent the offer to the Romanian Army, he was not the owner of the property in Ştefăneştii de Jos, buying it only after it was clear that the deal would be signed. Also, the Army was not legally allowed to give away the Pipera plot, because it was claimed by former owners. [România Liberă, [http://www.romanialibera.ro/a89763/cum-si-a-facut-becali-averea.html "Cum şi-a făcut Becali averea"] , 14 March 2007]

The affair was investigated in 2006 by the National Anticorruption Directorate (NAD). [Gândul, [http://www.gandul.info/2006-06-17/scandalul_schimbului "Scandalul schimbului de terenuri dintre Gigi Becali şi Ministerul Apărării Naţionale s-a mutat la DNA"] , June 17, 2006] In July 2007, the NAD started to investigate a transaction between Becali and the daughter of Defence Minister Victor Babiuc, involving land in Pipera which was sold for $300/sqm. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=312399 "Ciubuc pentru Babiuc"] , 4 July 2007]

Ownership of Steaua

Becali joined the General Shareholders' Council of the FC Steaua Bucharest football team at the end of the 1990s, during the presidency of businessman Viorel Păunescu. Step by step, he tried to eliminate other possible candidates and gather all the Club's shares. He obtained 51% of the shares on 6 February 2003 and he bought another 15% toward the end of the year 2003. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=141842 "Gigi Becali deţine 66 la sută din FC Steaua SA"] 5 January 2004]

On October 17, 2005, his entire fortune was impounded by the National Fiscal Authority (ANAF) for debts totaling US$ 11,000,000. However, Becali sued the ANAF and won the trial, and subsequently the order of seizure was lifted. [Cronica Română, [http://www.cronicaromana.ro/gigi-becali-a-castigat-procesul-cu-anaf.html "Gigi Becali a câştigat procesul cu ANAF"] , May 20, 2006] He was however able to avoid paying the taxes by transferring the assets of Steaua to a newly-formed company, AFC Steaua Bucureşti, allowing the old association to go bankrupt. [cite news
url=http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=268867
title=Românii plătesc datoriile Stelei
work=Evenimentul Zilei
author=Chican, Marius; Focşeneanu, Dorin
accessdate=2007-09-06
] As of 2007, Becali detains no official link to the club, as he gradually renounced his shares in favour of his nephews. [cite web
url=http://www.hotnews.ro/articol_34128-Gigi-Becali-si-a-vandut-toate-actiunile-de-la-Steaua-nepotilor-sai.htm
title=Gigi Becali si-a vandut toate actiunile de la Steaua nepotilor sai
accessdate=2007-09-06
]

In 2005, the papers wrote that he commissioned a painting inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper", in which he holds the place of Jesus, while the eleven players and the coach hold the place of the disciples. [Gazeta Sporturilor, [http://www.gsp.ro/index.php?arhiva=1&a=8432&t=15 "Stîna cea de taină"] ] Becali denied the story, claiming that he received the painting from an admirer.

Other business activities

Becali announced in 2008 that he intends to open his own bank, named "Becali Bank", intended to be used "only by millionaires", with an initial investment of 30 million euro. Nevertheless, the Administration Council of the National Bank of Romania rejected the plan of creation without giving a public reason. [ [http://ziua.net/display.php?data=2008-08-11&id=241294 "Isărescu ingroapa Becali Bank"] , in "Ziua", 11 August 2008] "Cotidianul" notes that the National Bank can reject the creation of a new bank if they suspect that the new bank would not respect the laws or that they won't have solid and prudent investment policies. [http://cotidianul.ro/becali_isarescu_este_un_mascarici-54582.html "Becali: Isărescu este un măscărici!"] , in "Cotidianul", 11 August 2008]

In reply to this decision, Becali named Mugur Isărescu, the governor of the National Bank, "a buffoon, a frustrated and envious person" and announced that he intends to sue him.

Political career

In the 2000 Romanian legislative election, Gigi Becali has been a candidate of the "League of Italian Communities in Romania" for the seat in the Chamber of Deputies reserved to the Italian minority. He received 16,266 votes (0.15%) countrywide, of which 7,677 in Ilfov County. Nevertheless, he lost to Ileana Stana-Ionescu, who got only 2,943 votes in one constituency. Becali contested the results, but according to Romanian election law, for national minorities, it doesn't matter the total number of votes, but only the person who gains the largest percentage in one constituency gets the seat reserved for that national minority. [Romanian Chamber of Deputies, [http://www.cdep.ro/pls/steno/steno.stenograma?ids=5036&idm=1&idl=1 "Şedinţa Camerei Deputaţilor din 15 decembrie 2000"] ]

He has led the New Generation – Christian Democrat Party (PNG-CD) since January 2004, being its candidate in the 2004 presidential elections, receiving 1.77% of the votes cast (184,560 votes). [Biroul Electoral Central, [http://www.bec2004.ro/documente/rezultate/REZULTATE%20TUR%20I%20PRESEDINTE/P_BEC.pdf "Proces Verbal privind rezultatul pentru alegerea Preşedintelui României"] ]

In his 2004 electoral campaign, Becali used clips of the "Mihai Viteazul" movie (directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu), whose main character was played by Amza Pellea. Amza's daughter, Oana Pellea, sued Becali for using Amza Pellea's image without permission and won 35,000 RON (about $12,000) in damages. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://evz.ro/article.php?artid=253151 "Gigi Becali a fost învins de Oana Pellea"] , 14 March 2006]

He often had disputes with Corneliu Vadim Tudor, another extremist politician. These disputes, usually consisted of exchanges of insults between the two. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=165304 "Vadim îl face pe Becali handicapat"] 3 September 2004.] He had another dispute with Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu whom he named a "cockroach-politician" and a "Very Important "Papagal" ("papagal" means "parrot" in Romanian and is regarded as an insult). [Bucharest Daily News, [http://www.daily-news.ro/article_detail.php?idarticle=25237 "Becali says the PM is a 'cockroach-politician'"] , 16 April 2006]

In December 2006, he promised that his party would generate a "Cultural revolution" in Romania. [Cotidianul, [http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=8410&art=21881&cHash=1b8bf0a1b3 "Gigi Becali promite o revoluţie culturală"] ;, 16 December 2006]

At the elections for the European Parliament, held in November 2007, his party (PNG-CD) obtained 4,86% of the popular vote, little under the 5% needed for admission in the EU governing body.

Political positions

His political views are extreme nationalistic; he declared himself a follower of the Pre-WWII Romanian Legionnaire Movement and called for the canonization of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. [ [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/12/468a2a20-b5b5-41db-8066-96737eaeb8ce.html Profile: Gigi Becali] , at RFE/RL]

His 2004 electoral slogan "I, Gigi Becali, swear to all Romanians and to God that I'll make Romania shine like the holy sun of the sky" ("Eu Gigi Becali, jur în faţa tuturor românilor şi în faţa lui Dumnezeu că voi face ca România să strălucească precum soarele sfânt de pe cer!") is taken from the testament of Ion Moţa, one of the founders of the Legion of Saint Michael the Archangel.

In 2005, Dan Pavel resigned from his job as Becali's adviser because of Becali's links with Noua Dreaptă, a neofascist organization. Pavel claims that a few months after, Becali gave up those links. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=193328 "Gigi Becali, legionarii şi neonaziştii"] ]

Rapport with Băsescu and PD-L

He recently declared that he developed a friendship with President Traian Băsescu, saying that he will "fight against all his enemies" and that the president "needs his help".Fact|date=June 2007

Becali and the party he is leading are also allied with the Democratic Liberal Party in Bucharest's local council. The PD-L leaders announced they don't want a National Liberal vice-mayor, but they would rather support one from Becali's party. [ [http://www.ziua.ro/news.php?data=2008-06-21&id=8080 "PD-L nu vrea viceprimar liberal, ci unul din partidul lui Becali"] , "Ziua", 20 June 2008]

Views on homosexuality

In line with his conservative Orthodox Christian views, Becali has often made inflammatory remarks in the press regarding LGBT people. During his 2004 presidential campaign one of the main themes of his rhetoric was opposition to sexual minorities, which he voiced over and over in interviews and TV appearances.

On May 26, 2006, Becali's personal foundation, the "George Becali Christian Foundation", along with the Romanian Orthodox Church and 22 NGOs, signed a protest letter calling on the government and the courts to ban the Bucharest GayFest 2006 parade, focussed that year on the theme of same-sex unions. A few days later, the Bucharest Court of Appeals ruled, however, that the parade was legal, and it was ensured significant police protection. Becali justified his opposition to the pride parade by stating that he "doesn't discriminate against homosexuals" but that, "They abuse their rights. This is proselytism. They can do what they want in their homes, but not on the streets. I call on the Romanian Orthodox Church to defend the Christian faith and morals".Mihai Niculescu, [http://stiri.rol.ro/stiri/2006/05/razboinicul_luminii_in_cruciada_anti-homosexuali.htm Războinicul luminii, în cruciada anti-homosexuali] ("The militant of light, in an anti-homosexual crusade"), "Ziarul", 26 May 2006] Becali declared that he intended to pay for a referendum on same-sex marriage, which he believed 99% of people would vote against. He was also widely criticized in the media for asking, "Why [are there] so many homosexuals? I'll give two or five million dollars [for a referendum] , so we can finish off all homosexuals in the country." [ [http://www.9am.ro/revistapresei/Actualitate/34886/Becali-Dau-cateva-milioane-de-dolari-si-ii-terminam-pe-homosexuali Becali: 'Dau câteva milioane de dolari şi îi terminăm pe homosexuali!'] ("Becali: "I'll give a few million dollars and we'll finish off the homosexuals"), 9AM.ro, 2 June 2006]

The media commentator Dan Tapalagă, in an editorial at the "Cotidianul" newspaper, criticized the Romanian Orthodox Church for its coalition with Becali, and its opposition to the gay pride parade, which he sarcastically termed as "the sin of the Becalised Church". [Dan Tapalagă, [http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=5575&art=13494&cHash=4e835b5e29 Editorial - Păcatul bisercii becalizate] ("Editorial: The sin of the Becalised Church"), Cotidianul, 4 June 2006]

In an opinion piece written after Becali's inflammatory declaration, journalist Radu Călin Cristea quoted Cristian Pârvulescu, a Romanian political analyst, who described Becali as a "populist who practices a superficial form of legionarism", referring to the fascist Iron Guard movement which took place in 1930s Romania and whose members were named "legionnaires" ("legionari"). Cristea also warned that society and the political class should stop regarding Becali as an "inoffensive and amusing clown". [Radu Călin Cristea, [http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=5575&art=13483&cHash=a5b2696a9f Gigi Becali şi circul groazei] ("Gigi Becali and the circus of horror"), "Cotidianul"]

In October 2006, Gigi Becali was awarded the LGBT community's "black ball" for the most homophobic personality in Romania, as part of the 2006 Gay Awards Gala which took place during the Gay Film Nights Festival of Cluj-Napoca. [ [http://www.gayone.ro/content/view/697/50/ Gala Premiilor Gay 2006] (The Gay Awards Gala 2006), GayOne.ro, 4 October 2006.]

During Bucharest's annual GayFest in June 2007, Becali seemed to have tempered his homophobic stance. He declared in an interview that "I love them [homosexuals] in the same way that I love all other people. They can marry at the City Hall, every day, 10 of them if they want to. But in church, they don't have a place." [ro icon [http://www.protv.ro/stiri/social/homosexualii-si-lesbienele-ii-critica-pe-vanghelie-iliescu-si.html Homosexualii şi lesbienele îi critică pe Vanghelie, Iliescu şi Becali!] , ProTV, 7 June 2007] When questioned about homosexuality in another interview conducted during the 2007 GayFest, he stated, "They can do what they want... marry... I don't have anything against that". On the question of whether he would accept a gay person in the New Generation Party of which he is president, Becali replied "But why would I have a problem with that? Who knows how many there already are?" [ro icon [http://www.protv.ro/stiri/politic/gigi-becali-a-incheiat-conferinta-osce-printr-un-discurs.html Gigi Becali a încheiat conferinţa OSCE printr-un discurs] , ProTV, 8 June 2007]

In September 2007, he resumed his homophobic speech, stating that if he becomes president of Romania, he will "get rid of all homosexual and lesbian clubs" and create special neighbourhoods for homosexuals and lesbians, so that "they can stay there and leave us [alone] ". He also referred to gays as "sinners" and said that "they should go to the priest if they have problems in their head". [ [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=323884 "Europeanul" Becali vrea sa-i izoleze pe homosexuali] (The "European" Becali wants to isolate homosexuals), "Evenimentul Zilei", 24 September 2007] The secretary-general of the New Generation Party, Cătălin Dâncu, later appeared to distance himself from Becali's comments, declaring that, "So long as EU principles clearly state that minority rights must be respected, Romania as a member-state must respect them". Romania's National Council for Combating Discrimination is investigating whether Becali's comments breach anti-discrimination and hate speech laws, stating that he could be fined up to 8000 lei (~€2500). [ro icon [http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=14216&art=36132&cHash=aa45633342 Gigi Becali vrea „strada bulangiilor“] , "Cotidianul", 24 September 2007]

Controversies

Xenophobia

Some of Becali's remarks have been considered xenophobic; for instance, in May 2008, the National Audovisual Council fined the OTV channel for allowing Becali's "aggressive and xenophobic speech", which "instigated to hate against the Hungarian minority in Romania" to go on live, without any intervention from Dan Diaconescu, the talk show host. [National Audiovisual Council of Romania, [http://www.cna.ro/Decizia-nr-420-20-05-2008.html "Decizia nr. 420 din 20.05.2008"] ] He also believes in a conspiracy of the "Hungarian Freemasons", claiming that it is them who are financing Steaua's adversary, CFR Cluj. [ [http://www.gsp.ro/stire/ii-fac-pe-unguri-52907.html "Îi fac pe unguri!"] , in "Gazeta Sporturilor", 12 February 2008]

In November 2001, Becali and his bodyguards insulted and physically abused Malonga Parfait, the host of a satirical football TV Show, "Fotbal la Maxx". Becali called Parfait a "monkey" allegedly because the latter is of African origin. [ [http://evz.ro/article.php?artid=67393 "Gigi Becali l-a bătut pe Malonga Parfait!"] , in "Evenimentul Zilei" 5 November 2001]

There have been numerous controversies with the violent declarations linked with the Steaua football team, including the use of slurs against the Roma and other minorities by fans and employees of Becali. He also sang in April 2005 a manea which included a racial slur against the Roma. [Pro Sport, [http://www.prosport.ro/index.php?c=50&pg=4&a=104393 Gigi Becali a devenit interpret de manea...] , 27 April 2005]

Violence

In February 2002, Becali cursed and threatened Cristian Tudor Popescu, a well-known journalist, in a café, after the latter had written the article "O statuie pentru Puiu Paşcu" ("A Statue for Puiu Paşcu" - a former Minister of Defense in the Social Democratic Party cabinet of Adrian Năstase) in "Adevărul" about the controversial land swap with the Army and the assault on Malonga Parfait. Becali told Popescu that he should have been shot and that the journalists destroyed Romania. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://old.revistapresei.ro/RO/articol.cfm?Sectiune=Esential&ID=18961 "Pentru că a <<îndrăznit>> să scrie despre afacerile sale, Gigi Becali l-a ameninţat cu moartea pe Cristian Tudor Popescu" ("Because he <> write about his deals, Gigi Becali threatened death to Cristian Tudor Popescu")] , February 5, 2002]

In 2005, Becali provoked controversy by using extremely vulgar language in an interview, insulting the reporter and the channel he worked for (Antena 1).

In July 2005, in a restaurant, Becali cursed, spat and spilled a glass of wine on Şerban Huidu, the creator of the satirical TV show "Cronica Cârcotaşilor". Becali got the nickname "Ioan Botezatorul" (John the Baptist) after this incident. [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=192081 "Huidu nu vrea bani de la Gigi Becali"] , 20 July 2005]

Following a match of FC Steaua in April 2006, his bodyguards used violence against a female reporter of Realitatea TV after Becali asked them to "take her away from that place". [Evenimentul Zilei, [http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=257562 "Jurnalistă de la Realitatea TV agresată de gărzile lui Becali"] , 28 April 2006]

He currently is one of the favorite subjects of the Romanian media, due to his frequent slips of the tongue and inflammatory remarks. For example, in July 2005, a reporter called Becali to ask him some questions related to the Steaua football club. Becali used this opportunity to unleash a flurry of curses addressed to Antena 1 and Dan Voiculescu. He himself said in the dialogue that "he is not a civilized man".

In 2008, he admited that when he lost money in a casino, he lost his temper and began throwing chairs toward the windows, breaking them. [ [http://cotidianul.ro/gigi_becali_am_luat_scaunul_si_am_spart_toate_vitraliile_din_cazinou-58227.html "Gigi Becali: “Am luat scaunul şi am spart toate vitraliile din cazinou”"] , "Cotidianul", 16 September 2008]

Various

In September 2007, Becali sparked controversy when he insulted parliamentarian Lavinia Sandru, stating that she should "go and become a candidate for the beltway, not for the European Parliament", a veiled reference to prostitution. [ro icon [http://stiri.rol.ro/content/view/80279/2/ Basescu si Becali, "frati" de discriminare] ("Băsescu and Becali, brothers in discrimination"), ROL Ştiri, 15 September 2007] He has also remarked that a woman "has no more value" after she has given birth to a child. This led to a group of twenty-six women reporting Becali to the National Council for Combating Discrimination for contravening Romania's anti-discrimination laws. On October 6, the Council ruled that Becali's comments were discriminatory towards women and "affected the dignity of women", Becali being fined 500 lei. [ro icon [http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=14582&art=36811&cHash=33488d9d14 Becali, amendat cu 500 de lei pentru discriminare] ("Becali, fined 500 lei for discrimination"), "Cotidianul", 6 October 2007]

Becali has also been sued various times, mostly over slander, by the football coach Anghel Iordănescu, politician Radu Berceanu and a Divizia A referee, Cristian Balaj.

References

Gigi Becali. Povestea - SportulRomanesc.ro | http://www.sportulromanesc.ro/2008-05-02/gigi-becali-povestea.htm

External links

* [http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,2190975,00.html Guardian unlimited: http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,2190975,00.html] , October 14, 2007
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6457237.stm BBC News: Rich populist woos Romanians] , March 16, 2007
* [http://www.georgebecali.ro/ georgebecali.ro: official site]
* [http://www.png.ro/ New Generation Party: official site]

Video links

* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1746332412860198789 Becali fixing his car (a Maybach) with a crow bar]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouaHp5ecnS8 Gigi Becali laughing incontrolable]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbuqYOYuzI8 Gigi Becali cursing at the phone 5 minutes]


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