Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, his adviser Jaume Masferrer, the club’s CEO Oscar Grau and head of legal services Roman Gomez Ponti have been arrested following a raid at the club’s offices on Monday.
A statement from Barcelona read:
“Given the entry of the local police at the club’s offices, per a court order relating to the hiring [of a third-party company] and monitoring services of social networks, FC Barcelona has offered its full support to judicial and police authorities and collaborated with them to clarify the facts that are the subject of the investigation.
“The information and documents required by the police were strictly relating to this case.
“FC Barcelona expresses its utmost respect for the judicial proceedings and also the presumption of innocence for the people affected by Monday’s events.”
It is in relation to the Barcagate scandal from last February, with police having visited and searched the club offices this Monday as well.Initially reported by Cadena SER and RAC1, CEO Oscar Grau and lawyer Roman Gomez Ponti were also arrested at the Camp Nou, while former director Jaume Masferrer was, like Bartomeu, arrested at his home.
They have all been taken to a local police station and are waiting to make declarations, although it is expected that they will all be able to return to their homes to spend Monday night there.The decision to make these arrests was not the decision of the courts.
According to the Catalan justice system, the arrests were the exclusive decision of the Mossos d’Esquadra. The courts had only ordered a search of the club offices.
What is Barcagate?
Barcagate is the scandal in which it is alleged that Barcelona paid for disparaging social media posts to be made about certain figures in the Blaugrana world who stood against Bartomeu’s regime.
This included some current players, such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique.An external audit carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers ruled out Bartomeu’s board as being behind it, yet judicial proceedings were opened when a judge from the 13th Barcelona investigating court, Adriana Gil, accepted a complaint from the Dignitat Blaugrana platform, a group of club members.
That complaint alleged mismanagement and/or individual corruption.At the centre of the investigation is the claim that Barcelona paid six times the normal market price for the services. This, though, was also dismissed in the external audit.
In summer of 2020, the judge ordered police to visit the club offices to collect information about the case.