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Former FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was provisionally released on Tuesday. He was heard by the courts as part of the investigation into the “Barçagate”, an alleged campaign of slander against figures of the Catalan club.
One night at the police station and outside. The ex-president of FC Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and his former right-hand man, Jaume Masferrer, were provisionally released on Tuesday March 2 after their hearing by the courts. They are worried in connection with “Barçagate”, an alleged campaign of slander targeting club figures hostile to their leadership.
The two men, arrested Monday and suspected in particular of corruption, were granted “provisional release” by the investigating judge in charge of the case whose investigation “remains open”, said in a statement the higher court of Catalonia. They refused to make any statement during their hearing.
Arrested Monday after a police operation that raided the headquarters of Barça, the two men had spent the night in a Barcelona police station.
Two current leaders of the club, the general manager, Oscar Grau, and the legal director, Roman Gomez Ponti, were also arrested before being released on Monday evening.
Josep Maria Bartomeu and Jaume Masferrer are at the heart of the “Barçagate” investigation, which was opened by the courts in May 2020.
This affair had erupted in February 2020 when the Spanish radio Cadena Ser had shown that several figures of the club, all critical of the president, were the subject of a smear campaign on the internet.
According to the radio, the I3 Ventures company had received from the club one million euros, an amount well above market prices, in six separate invoices, officially to monitor Barça’s image on social networks.
But waves of negative comments affecting opponents of Bartomeu then swarmed on social networks. Lionel Messi, Gerard Piqué, the iconic former coach Pep Guardiola or the former president and candidate for the next Barça presidency, Joan Laporta, were among the victims.
Criticized by a large fringe of supporters, players and club members, Josep Maria Bartomeu ended up resigning at the end of October after a long crisis, along with his entire management committee.
This twist comes five days before the election of a new club president and eight days before the knockout stages of the Champions League on the lawn of Paris SG (home defeat of Barça 4-1 at the to go).