Football: Barcelona take the field after off-field turmoil

Ex-President Bartomeu ‘provisionally released’ after his arrest during a raid on the La Liga club’s offices on Monday.

Spanish Super Cup - Barcelona v Sevilla
The investigation is thought to centre around the 'Barcagate' scandal [File: Jon Nazca/Reuters]

Barcelona will take the field in a crucial second-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final just two days after former cub President Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested in an investigation into alleged irregularities during his administration.

The match, with Barcelona trailing Sevilla 2-0, is the first to be played since Bartomeu was “provisionally released under charges of unfair administration and corruption of business” after his arrest that came during a raid on the La Liga club’s offices on Monday.

Bartomeu and ex-Director Jaume Masferrer exercised their right not to testify on Tuesday when answering charges of unfair administration and corruption of business.

Barca’s head of legal services, Roman Gomez Ponti, and former director, Jaume Masferrer, were also arrested.

The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia confirmed the case was still open.

The investigation is thought to centre around the “Barcagate” scandal, in which the Spanish giants allegedly paid social media company I3 Ventures to smear celebrated club names such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, Gerard Pique and former President Joan Laporta during Bartomeu’s leadership.

Catalan officials searched Barca’s offices in July 2020 in relation to the claims, although the club hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to investigate the matter, with the global auditing firm finding in their favour.

Barcelona to “come back stronger”

Meanwhile, former Barcelona player and manager Pep Guardiola is optimistic that “the best club in the world” will recover from off-field turmoil “in a short time” under a new president.

Guardiola believes there are better times to come for the Catalan powerhouse following Sunday’s presidential election, with Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Antoni Freixa standing for office.

“I know it’s an uncomfortable situation and hopefully it’s going to finish well,” said Guardiola.

“The only thing I’m concerned about right now is in one week we will have a new president. I want to congratulate all three for the campaign, we are in a difficult situation all around the world and in Barcelona especially, for many reasons everybody already knows.

“To have the courage to the lead the next years and I’m pretty sure hopefully as many people as possible can vote and choose the right president to lead this incredible club.

Pep Guardiola - reuters
Former Barca player and manager Guardiola believes there are better times ahead for the Catalan powerhouse [File: Carl Recine Livepic/Action Images via Reuters]

“For me, it’s the best club in the world for the sentimental issues and I’m pretty sure Barcelona will come back stronger in a short time,” he added.

Guardiola coached Barca to 14 titles, including two Champions Leagues, during his tenure 2008 to 2012.

Source: News Agencies