Soccer

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu arrested as police raid Camp Nou, per reports

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Ex-Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested on Monday as part of a search and seize task that is linked with an investigation into club officials according to reports.

Barca’s Camp Nou home and administrative headquarters were entered as numerous people were detained and some taken into custody, including club CEO Oscar Grau, Bartomeu’s advisor Jaume Masferrer and legal services chief Roman Gomez Ponti.

In “Barcagate” last year, Catalan club officials allegedly conducted a smear campaign against critical current and former players as well as Bartomeu himself while he was still president.

The La Liga giants have already rejected claims that they hired the company I3 at an over-inflated rate to paint a better image of club officials in the face of their detractors by making negative comments on social media about certain players and critics.

Barca allegedly used fake social media accounts to undermine opponents when views were expressed that went against the club with Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Pep Guardiola all thought to have been targeted.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ independent audit was released by the club to illustrate that there had been no wrongdoing at any point and Bartomeu ended Barca’s deal with I3 as Masferrer took responsibility for those relations.

Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year after Lionel Messi’s failed move away from Catalonia plunged the club into further unwanted controversy and their problems have been exacerbated by the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing political turmoil.

In a statement released Monday morning, the club said, 

“Before the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning at the Camp Nou offices under the instruction of the Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona, which is in charge of the case relating to the contacting of monitoring services on social networks, FC Barcelona have offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation. 

The information and documentation requested by the judicial police force relate strictly to the facts relative to this case. 

FC Barcelona express its great respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.”

Barca’s next presidential elections are due to be held in less than one week after they were already delayed once with Carles Tusquets continuing to fill the role on an interim basis. 



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