Catalan police arrested 4 individuals — together with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu — after raiding Barcelona’s stadium on Monday in a search and seizure operation, including to the membership’s turmoil lower than per week earlier than it holds presidential elections.
The operation was associated to final 12 months’s “Barçagate,” through which membership officers had been accused of launching a smear marketing campaign in opposition to present and former gamers who had been vital of the membership and then-president Bartomeu.
Police didn’t say who had been taken into custody however presidential candidate Joan Laporta confirmed Spanish media experiences that Bartomeu was amongst these detained.
“Dealing with what occurred right now with the raids on the membership’s headquarters and the detentions of Barça’s ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and different executives of the membership, our workforce need to specific our utmost respect in direction of the actions performed by the judiciary and police authorities in addition to utmost respect in direction of the precept of presumption of innocence,” Laporta mentioned. “We’re deeply saddened by these occasions that trigger huge hurt to the picture of our membership.”
Members of the police’s monetary crimes division performed the operation in 5 completely different places, together with “some particular departments of the FC Barcelona workplaces.” They mentioned they had been investigating “alleged crimes associated to property and socio-economic order.”
Amongst these the Spanish media claimed had been detained had been membership CEO Óscar Grau and authorized division chief Román Gómez Ponti. Jaume Masferrer, Bartomeu’s former chief of workers, additionally was allegedly detained. They had been taken to a police station for interrogation, Spanish media mentioned, and police additionally went to Bartomeu’s home looking for proof.
Authorities spent a number of hours on the workforce headquarters looking out paperwork and speaking to workers.
“We need to spotlight the perspective and collaboration of the FC Barcelona within the information which have been made right now and through the course of the investigation,” the police mentioned in an announcement. “The investigation, which has been occurring for nearly a 12 months, remains to be ongoing.”
The membership, mired in debt of greater than 1.1 billion euros ($1.three billion), mentioned it supplied “full collaboration to the authorized and police authorities to assist clarify details that are topic to investigation.” It added the case was associated “to the contacting of monitoring providers on social networks.”
“The knowledge and documentation requested by the judicial police drive relate strictly to the details relative to this case. FC Barcelona (expresses) its utmost respect for the judicial course of in place and for the precept of presumed innocence for the individuals affected inside the remit of this investigation.”
The membership didn’t point out Bartomeu. A textual content message despatched to Bartomeu was not instantly answered.
Laporta, one of many three presidential candidates in elections on Sunday, advised Lleida Radio that what occurred on Monday “was a consequence of the dangerous administration by the earlier administration.” He mentioned the information of Bartomeu’s detention was “surprising” and “not good” for the membership, however burdened that the previous president deserved the “presumption of innocence.”
Laporta was Barcelona’s president a decade in the past and, like Bartomeu, additionally confronted a no-confidence vote throughout his time in cost.
Barcelona had denied accusations that it employed — and overpaid — an organization to make unfavourable feedback about its personal gamers and opponents on social media so as to enhance the picture of senior membership officers.
The corporate was accused of utilizing faux social media accounts to discredit opposition figures after they expressed views that went in opposition to the membership. A few of the figures supposedly included gamers such Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué, in addition to former coach Pep Guardiola.
The membership later launched an unbiased audit report exhibiting that there was no wrongdoing.
Bartomeu and his board of administrators resigned final 12 months amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Messi. The membership has been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The membership has been managed by a caretaker board since Bartomeu left in October whereas dealing with a no-confidence movement supported by 1000’s of membership members livid on the workforce’s poor performances and the membership’s monetary state of affairs.
The membership’s struggles started to floor after the workforce’s embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich within the quarterfinals of the Champions League final season, which was the primary with out a title for the Spanish membership since 2007-08.
Bartomeu was loudly criticized by Messi, particularly after the previous president denied the participant’s request to depart the membership on the finish of final season. Messi’s contract ends this season and the Argentine nice has but to say whether or not he’ll keep or go.
Barcelona is 5 factors off the Spanish league lead. It misplaced at residence to Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 within the first leg of the spherical of 16 of the Champions League and was crushed by Sevilla 2-Zero within the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals.