Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s regional police force has carried out a search on Monday morning on all the offices of the Spanish giants, FC Barcelona and reportedly arrested four people in the process.
The raid carried out by the Police was in search of evidence in relation to the “Barcagate” social media scandal that happened in February, where the Catalan giants allegedly paid third party companies to produce disparaging contents about some people including former players that are opposed and critical of former president, Bartomeu’s administration. A similar raid was also carried out in the club last year June.
The companies allegedly hired by the Spanish giants include I3 Ventures SL, NSG Social Science Ventures SL, Tantra Soft SA, Digital Side SA, Big Data Solutions SA and Futuric SA. There were allegations made that I3 Ventures SL were behind fake social media accounts despising as Barcelona fans that produced disparaging contents about the likes of Victor Font, the club’s presidential candidate. It also attacked high profile players like Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique and also former players like Xavi, Guardiola, etc.
According to reports, those arrested were former Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu; the club’s chief executive, Oscar Grau; Roman Gomez Ponti, the head of legal services and Jaume Masferrer, an adviser to Bartomeu. The decision to arrest them was not the court’s decision. The arrests were made by the exclusive decision of the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona which is in charge of the case only ordered for a search.
The Catalan giants have been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and this further stains the club’s image.
The raid comes less than a week before the club’s presidential elections are to be held which is coming up on March 7. Three candidates – Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freia – are on the final ballot for the crucial vote.
In a statement, Barcelona has offered to give their full collaboration regarding the ongoing investigations.
The club stated: “Regarding the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning at the Camp Nou offices by order 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 utmost respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.”