- FC Barcelona - football - Spain - sport
Barcelona are using player injuries to hide the fact that a number of players have been sidelined for indiscipline, a high-ranking official at the club said on Wednesday.
The comments came just hours before Barca play the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Schalke 04 and are certain to increase tension at the club following their recent poor run of results in the league.
"Look at these gentlemen who aren't working, who aren't doing anything, who haven't played for quite a few weeks. Well, they were sidelined by the club some weeks ago," president of the club's economic commission Xavier Sala Martin told Catalunya Radio.
"Although we are disguising things by saying there are injuries and all that, these gentlemen have been sidelined and they are trying to isolate them from the rest of the squad."
Sala Martin is not part of the board of directors but his position as the head of the economic commission means that he takes charge of the club during a presidential election as he did in 2006.
Barcelona said they had no immediate comment on Sala Martin's declarations.
Sala Martin refused to name the players in question, but his comments will only fuel recent speculation surrounding injured players Ronaldinho and Deco who have been absent from the squad in recent weeks.
Ronaldinho was out of action for a month with an unspecified injury but pulled a leg muscle as he was about to return to action last week and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Deco has been out since last month with a calf injury.
Sala Martin defended the rest of the Barcelona squad, saying they should not be tarred with the same brush as any players involved in incidents of indiscipline.
"It is unfair that because of the behaviour of one, two or three who are partying all day and that only go to 22 training sessions out of 60 that all the players are being lazy," he said.
Barcelona fans voiced their discontent at the club's recent run of poor results with angry protests against the president Joan Laporta, players and coach Frank Rijkaard after their 0-0 draw at home to Getafe on Sunday.
They hold a 1-0 advantage going into the return against Schalke.