Former Barcelona president Bartomeu and senior club officials arrested on corruption charges

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among those who have been arrested on Monday morning as the Catalan police force raided club offices, say reports.

The major Barcelona news is in relation to the case which has become known as ‘Barçagate’ – in which the club hired a third company to defame their rivals, both inside and outside the club, in the media.

Catalan police force Mossos raided the club’s facilities on Monday morning and they have confirmed that arrests have been made in relation to the case but have not disclosed who has been among those to be detained.

Bartomeu has not been involved with the Catalan giants since he and his board resigned from their posts in October last year, triggering a new set of presidential elections, and he is said to have been arrested at his home this morning.

CEO Oscar Grau, head of legal Roman Gomez Ponti and Jaume Masferrer – the former right-hand man of Bartomeu – are also reported to have been among those arrested by the police.

The ‘Barçagate’ story emerged in relation to reported documents that were said to show the inner workings and financial transactions of the club, which caused a stir in the Spanish media.

Last year, Cadena Ser’s El Larguero show revealed documents from Barcelona which appeared to show the club paying a third party to damage the reputation of individuals, including their own players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique – who were seen to be opponents of the then-president Bartomeu.

The third party were said to be the company I3 Ventures, who were allegedly used to promote their own messages both on Twitter and Facebook to discredit others.

In September, El Mundo outlined how the Catalan police had suspected Bartomeu of corruption and sanctioning a payment to the company that was six times higher than their market value, with the reasoning behind the excessive value now being investigated by the authorities.

The findings of Barcelona’s involvement with the company were revealed in February last year, after Barcelona issued a statement denying a report from Cadena Ser radio station claiming the club were paying a third party to damage the reputation of others.

The Catalan club always strenuously denied any truth in the reports, saying that they had neither paid nor promoted anyone to denounce or attack others – who have been opponents to the current board in some form at some point – online.

Tags Josep Maria Bartomeu Oscar Grau