Spanish police on Monday raided FC Barcelona’s headquarters, seized evidence and detained four people. Arrests on the eve of the club’s presidential election created another crisis for a football, brought down by poor debt, boardroom violations and poor performance on the field.
A spokesman for Catalonia’s regional police force, Mossos de Iscrada, said its economic crime unit seized evidence from Barcelona’s offices. He said the investigation was on and four people were detained, but refused to name the persons, citing police policy.
Several news media outlets reported that the four detained were the current and former officials of the club’s head: former President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in December, shortly before he faced a vote of confidence; Oscar Graeau, the club’s chief executive; Roman Gomez Ponty, Head of Legal Services; And Barmeau’s mentor Jaime Masferrer.
Stated in barcelona a statement The club had offered “full cooperation to legal and police officers to help clear facts that are under investigation.”
Investigators have been looking into Barcelona’s affairs for months following what the club suggested Secretly Hired An External Marketing Company To produce disappointing material about some of its most important and high-profile players, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Piche.
The team denied any wrongdoing and hired a consultant, PWC, to complete an audit of its relationship with marketing company I3 Ventures, but the police continued their investigation.
Police investigations in Barcelona have been closely followed by the Spanish news media, known as “Barcaget”. Bartomu said in February that he did not know whether the company was involved in spreading negative content targeting Barcelona players and that although the club terminated the contract, the stain remained.
The raids on the club’s offices come just over 140,000 days before Barcelona members will elect Bartomeu’s successor, and this is another hit for a club’s reputation that has portrayed itself as a benchmark in world football for years Was. The team liked to portray itself as a team with values that placed it in a class of its own that operated under Slogan, “more than a club.”
Bartomu’s resignation came months later An outrageous 8-2 defeat From Bayern Munich that ended the club last season with the Champions League, Europe’s richest club football competition and Messi publicly as the greatest player in the history of the game.
Messi called Bartomeu’s board a “disaster” and sought to allow it Leave the club He joined as a 13-year-old Argentinian. The club declined Messi’s request and the player backed down and announced that he would rather stay through the courts than drag the issue.
Messi’s contract allows him to leave at the end of this season, but he said he has not decided what he will do.
Bartomeu has been in negative headlines for more than a year, and his term as president, which began in 2014 amid an old scandal, has marked a time of unrest. Last spring, six members of the club’s board resigned and went public with criticism of Bartomu.
At the heart of his fall was a contract with I3 Ventures, and allegations that it was behind bogus social media accounts – passports for Barcelona supporters – that led to an alleged attack with Bartomu’s opponents. They included Victor Font, a vocal candidate to be the club’s next president, and popular players such as Messi and Pike.
The team also has finances More uncertain Than at any time in its recent history. Earlier this year, it showed its lenders, tax authorities and rival clubs a financial statement of more than 1 billion euros, about $ 1.2 billion, with more than 600 million euros required to be paid in the short term.
The club has held emergency talks with banks to find a solution to its problems and club officials are selling the team’s commercial assets to investors for up to $ 250 million.
The club has played without an audience this season due to the coronovirus epidemic, as has been the case for most teams in Europe, and the team’s revenue forecast has been reduced. Club officials recently told The Times that the club’s Cavarthe Nou Camp stadium and museum are two of Spain’s most visited tourist spots, and the loss of those revenues and other income could reach 600 million euros .
On the field, the picture is hardly better.
Even though Messi returned, the club’s performance was a shadow of his dominated past. Barcelona last month humiliated another Champions League, losing 4–1 against Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their two matches, in the first leg of the 16th match. The defeat means elimination from this year’s tournament, but all are assured.
Barcelona have rallied from a poor start to finish second in the Spanish league table, but it is still five points behind leader, Atlético Madrid, in part thanks to goals from success striker Luis Suarez, whose contract was canceled Was made by Barcelona before the start of the season.