The arrest of the club’s former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and senior club officials has dominated Barcelona news this week and there is now a further development to the story.
El Pais – Spain’s biggest selling daily non-sports newspaper – has accessed the police statements of workers from I3Ventures (the company hired, supposedly, to monitor social networks and improve the image of the club) who have given greater detail of their instruction from the club.
The report claims that those statements included workers claiming their job was to “erode” the image of Bartomeu’s rivals within the club, while praising the work of the then-president and his board.
Read more: Barçagate reveals Barcelona president Bartomeu’s black list of journalists
Furthermore, the statements sent by the Mossos (Catalan police force) to the judge in the case Alejandra Gil, claims that Bartomeu and his board “exceeded their administrative powers” when sanctioning the work.
Bartomeu was arrested alongside his advisor Jaume Masferrer, the club’s CEO Óscar Grau and Román Gómez Punti, head of legal at the Camp Nou, with all four implicated in the case that has become known as ‘Barçagate’.
Read more: ‘Barçagate’: the case that led to the arrest of former Barcelona president Bartomeu
In the autumn of 2017, Barça hired the services of the NiceStream communication group, made up of two companies – I3Ventures and NSG – as the report in El Pais continues.
These were both controlled by Uruguayan businessman Carlos Ibáñez, with five contracts signed and each payment for those contracts slightly lower than €200k, allowing them to circumvent the authorization of the board of directors.
The report adds that the police suspect that the nature of these payments was a “fictitious division” to “evade the control bodies” of Barcelona as a club – essentially, they were processed without requiring any further consent.
The Mossos police force add that the total money paid to Nicestream between 2017 and 2020 —which includes the “private use” of the services together with a “monitoring” of networks in favour of the club— amounts to €2.3m.