- Barcelona’s board have been accused of corruption by the Catalan police force
- President Josep Maria Bartomeu is accused of making personal financial gains
- It involves Barcelona’s hiring of social media consultancy I3 Ventures
- The news brings fresh chaos at Barcelona amid the Lionel Messi transfer debacle
Lionel Messi continues to delay a final decision on his future as the Barcelona board were potentially thrown into more turmoil on Thursday night by a report in Spanish outlet El Mundo suggesting they are subject to allegations of corruption.
El Mundo reported that the Catalan police force have filed a report to the judge investigating Barcelona’s hiring of social media consultancy I3 Ventures to monitor its online presence that concluded ‘possible economic crimes’.
The allegation, according to El Mundo, is that Barcelona paid up to 600 per cent above the going rate for the services of I3 Ventures who were employed to monitor Barcelona’s social media.
The investigating judge will have to decide whether or not to act on the report and could ask Barcelona directors to testify.
Controversy around Barcelona’s link to I3 Ventures emerged in February when Cadena Ser reported that the company hired to monitor social media were linked to a series of social media accounts that ran negative stories about club figures who were in potential opposition to president Josep Bartomeu.
Barcelona cancelled their contract with I3 Ventures shortly afterwards.
In July, Barcelona made public the findings of an investigation by audit company PWC that ruled they did not commission I3 Ventures to run a smear campaign against important club figures.
The audit also suggested they did not pay over the market price for the services but El Mundo reported that the police report argues that an audit commissioned by an interested party could not be ‘conclusive’.
The latest twist to the drama at Barcelona comes following news on Wednesday evening that club captain Messi was close to admitting defeat in his battle to leave the club for Manchester City, according to reports in Argentina.
Barcelona asked Messi’s father and agent Jorge to help persuade his son to reconsider his attempt to force his way out of the club, in a 90-minute meeting with Nou Camp president Josep Bartomeu on Wednesday night.
With neither side appearing willing to back down, the stalemate looked set to continue – but the message has been relayed to the Barcelona captain and he is understood to be considering his options.
Several media in Argentina, who first reported that Messi had sent a burofax to Barcelona requesting a free transfer, even suggested he was now ’90 per cent likely to stay’.
Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann has expressed his desire for Messi to stay at the Camp Nou.
Messi’s future at Barcelona remains unresolved, and Griezmann admitted that he doesn’t have any inside information about whether his exalted team-mate will stay.
As reported by Mundo Deportivo, Griezmann said: ‘We try to have news, but what happens is between the club and him. We just hope he stays. We listen to a bit of everything but we don’t know more on our part’.
Culled from Dailymail