Report: Ex-Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu Arrested Following Raid

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2021

FC Barcelona's President Josep Maria Bartomeu, left, gives a speech during the official presentation of French forward Antoine Griezmann as new FC Barcelona player in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, July 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

Police arrested former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu after a raid of the club's offices Monday, according to Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden of ESPN.

Barcelona CEO Oscar Grau, head of legal services Roman Gomez Ponti and adviser Jaume Masferrer reportedly were also arrested, although police did not reveal whether anyone had been charged.

The arrests are said to be related to the accusation that the club's top brass hired a company to smear current and former players on social media.

Llorens and Marsden reported in February 2020 that Barcelona had a contract with marketing firm I3 Ventures since 2017. A Barcelona statement denied the club was responsible for any attacks on social media and threatened to take legal action.

An external audit cleared the club of financial corruption in JulyThe police opened its own investigation, however, and raided the offices at the Camp Nou in June before returning Monday in search of new evidence.

Bartomeu resigned as Barcelona's president in October following a clash with Lionel Messi over the superstar's potential exit from the club.

Carles Tusquets has since been the team's interim president, and a new president will be elected Sunday.