Barcelona crisis deepens! Under-fire president Josep Bartomeu rocked by accusations of CORRUPTION from Catalan police as Lionel Messi delays a final decision on his Nou Camp future
- 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 Barca’s hiring of social media consultancy L3 Ventures company
- The news brings fresh chaos at Barcelona amid the Lionel Messi transfer debacle
Lionel Messi continued to delay a final decision on his future as the Barcelona board were thrown into turmoil on Thursday night by accusations of corruption.
Spanish outlet El Mundo reported in its Friday edition that the Catalan police force have filed a report to the judge investigating Barcelona’s hiring of social media consultancy L3 Ventures company to monitor its online presence – and 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 L3 Ventures who were employed to monitor Barcelona’s social media.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board have been accused of corruption
Lionel Messi delayed a decision on his future after the accusations came to light on Thursday
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 L3 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 L3 Ventures shortly afterwards.
Bartomeu and Messi have been at war after the captain made it known that he wanted to leave
In July, Barcelona made public the findings of an investigation by audit company PWC that ruled they did not commission L3 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.
Messi looked as though he was going to leave the club yet this week has brought fresh chaos
Barcelona asked Messi’s father 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’.
Jorge Messi held showdown talks with Barcelona president Bartomeu on Wednesday
This came after Jorge Messi, who acts as Messi’s agent, arrived in Barcelona from Argentina on Wednesday morning and began the day saying it would be ‘difficult’ for his son to stay at Barcelona.
He was asked by Cuatro Deportes in Spain: ‘How do you see it?’.
When he replied ‘difficult’ he was asked: ‘difficult for him to stay?’ and he replied: ‘yes’.
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