'Barcagate' Scandal Continues As Bartomeu And 3 Others Have Been Arrested On Monday 3/1/2021
Updated: Mar 3
Police have raided the Nou Camp and arrested Josep Maria Bartomeu (former Club President), Oscar Grau (current Barca CEO), Roman Gomez Ponti (current Head of Legal), and Jaume Masferrer (former Chief of Staff). This happened on Monday, March 1st as a part of the ongoing investigation of 'Barcagate' more specifically 'Smear Campaigns' against current and former players including Messi, Pique, Xavi, Pep Guardiola, and Puyol due to their expressed animosity towards the former Club President. These 'Smear Campaigns' have also been rumored to have targeted Agusti Benedito & Victor Font who were potential opposing candidates for the presidency of Barca.
I3 Ventures who are an Argentinian-based cooperation that use "data analysis to build knowledge about human behavior" have been the company that Bartomeu has used to put on these 'smear campaigns'. Bartomeu was said to have contracted with them secretly in 2017 to improve the status of Barca as a whole but evidence has been found of this partnership being used to boost Bartomeu’s individual social media status and lower that of certain club players and ex-players who have expressed their dissatisfaction in the former club presidents work. The deal between Barca and I3 Ventures was €980,000 paid in installments of around €200,000 at a time, allowing the money to go unnoticed by Barca Club Directors. €980,000 is also around 5 times the price that I3 Ventures typically charges for the work which Former Barca President said he hired them for, suggesting that they were partnering for more matters than Bartomeu has released so far.
This is the second time that police have raided the Nou Camp, the last time being over the summer, and they continue to build their evidence in the case against Bartomeu. Bail was paid for the 4 arrestees later on Monday, and they were released, but the case continues. Police have come out with a statement saying that they are not focused on the specific work with I3 Ventures at the moment but instead on the fact that the installments were paid in around €200,000 sums to go under the Club Directors. The Charges that were put on Bartomeu and the 3 others were Money Laundering, Unfair Administration, and Corruption Between Individuals.
Barca has come out with a statement saying that they are in “Full Collaboration” with the police during this investigation, but are still under a lot of stress as the club is in 1.1 Billion Euros of debt which needs to be paid off by summer and continue to have 2 of the arrestees remaining in high positions of the club.