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Barcagate: Ex-Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu paid journalists to smear players

Catalan police, Mossos, have concluded that Josep Bartomeu paid journalists through third-party companies, reports EFE Deportes.

The former Barcelona president was accused of a defamation campaign against the club in 2020.

Mossos officially started investigations in 2021 and have now claimed that Bartomeu is guilty of the accusations.

He hired social media company I3 Ventures to improve Barca’s image on social media.

They also launched a smear campaign against some of their players at the time. Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were among the targets.

The case was dubbed Barcagate or Bartogate. I3 Ventures have now admitted that they received money from the club on the order of the former president.

Bartomeu was investigated in a case of alleged tax fraud in 2015 over the signing of Neymar.

He was vice president to Sandro Rosell at the time of the then-world record transfer in 2013.

In 2017, Bartomeu was eventually ordered to stand trial for his involvement in the signing of the Paris Saint-Germain star after his appeal was rejected.

In a bid to protect his image, Bartomeu hired I3Ventures to create states of opinion on social media. Dozens of ‘unofficial’ Barca fan accounts were dedicated to protecting his image.

The accounts also defamed club legends such as Xavi, Carles Puyol and Pep Guardiola. Former presidential candidate Victor Font, Joan Laporta and CEO of Mediapro Jaume Roures were not spared.

The club’s board of directors initially denied having ever hired I3 Ventures.

However, Bartomeu later admitted that the company was hired to improve the club’s image on social media. He denied accusations of using it to damage the reputation of the affected people.

Bartomeu resigned in October 2020 following a vote of no confidence by the club members.

He was arrested in March 2021 after Mosso raided Barca’s offices in a search and seizure operation.

I3 Ventures earned €980,000 for the campaign, and with the latest findings by police indicting Bartomeu, it is safe to say Barcagate is far from over.

Court proceedings should be next, and the former Barca president could spend time in jail like his former boss Rosell.

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