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Former Barcelona chief Bartomeu in the eye of a storm

Josep Maria Bartomeu

Chennai, March 2: Things are going from bad to worse for ex-Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, his adviser Jaume Masferrer, the club's CEO Oscar Grau and head of legal services Roman Gomez Ponti as they all have been arrested following a raid at the club's offices.

Bartomeu was involved in the infamous 'BarcaGate’ scandal which harmed the images of the several Barcelona greats.

Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year after the club captain and legend Lionel Messi openly criticized him in the media.

Reports emerging from Spain state that the four men have been arrested on suspicion of "unfair administration, corruption between individuals and money laundering”.

In the infamous 'BarcaGate’ scandal, Bartomeu had allegedly hired I3 Ventures to protect his reputation as several campaigns were started anonymously to harm the images of club greats like Messi, Gerard Pique, Pep Guardiola as well as outspoken critics of the club president.

Barcelona had denied accusations that they hired and overpaid a company to make negative comments about their own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior officials.

The company was accused of using fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures when they expressed views that went against the club.

Joan Laporta, former president of the club and a favorite to take over the post again, in the elections to be held on March 7, expressed his dismay at the ongoing developments.

"Although he (Bartomeu) didn't have a good administration, he still has been president of FC Barcelona and it's news that isn't pleasant for anyone. The truth is that it's shocking news, certainly.”

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Story first published: Tuesday, March 2, 2021, 11:52 [IST]
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