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Former Barcelona president Bartomeu and senior club officials arrested on corruption charges

Reports have emerged that former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is noticeably among those who have been arrested Monday morning as the Catalan police force Mossos raided club offices.

The arrests are allegedly in relation to the case which has become known as ‘Barcagate’ – in which the club purportedly hired a third company to defame their rivals, both inside and outside the club, in popular social media channels.

Catalan police force Mossos raided the club’s facilities on Monday morning and they have confirmed that arrests have been made in relation to the case although not disclosing who has been among those to detained.

Bartomeu has not had any involvement with the Catalan giants since he and his board were forced to resign from their posts in October last year, triggering a new set of presidential elections this March, and he is said to have been arrested at his home.

CEO Oscar Grau, head of legal Roman Gomez Ponti and Jaume Masferrer – the former right-hand man of Bartomeu – have also been listed among those to have been among those arrested by the police.

The ‘Barçagate’ scandal emerged last year in relation to reported documents that were said to show the inner workings and financial transactions of the club, which caused a huge stir in the Spanish media.

Last year, Cadena Ser’s El Larguero revealed documents from Barcelona which appeared to show the club paying a third party agency to vilify the reputation of particular individuals, including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Pep Guardiola, among others who were seen to be non-partisan to the then-president Bartomeu.

The third party were said to be the company I3 Ventures, who were allegedly used by Bartomeu and his cronies to promote their own messages both on Twitter and Facebook to discredit others.

In September, El Mundo outlined how the Catalan police had suspected Bartomeu of corruption and sanctioning a payment to the company that was six times higher than their market value, with the reasoning behind the excessive value now being investigated by the authorities.

The findings of Barcelona’s involvement with the company were revealed in February last year, after Barcelona issued an official statement denying a report from Cadena Ser radio station claiming the club were paying a third party to damage the reputation of others.

The Catalan club always strenuously denied any truth in the reports, saying that they had neither paid nor promoted anyone to denounce or attack others – who have been opponents to the current board in some form at some point – online.