Several arrested as police raid headquarters of Barcelona football club

A police officer exits the offices of FC Barcelona on March 01, 2021.
A police officer exits the offices of FC Barcelona on March 01, 2021. © Lluis Gene, AFP

Police said they made several arrests on Monday after raiding FC Barcelona's stadium and offices in a search and seize operation.

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The Catalan club confirmed that police were at the team's headquarters but did not provide any more details.

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services. 

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only "arrests are taking place" and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

"We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit," a police spokesperson told AFP. 

Spanish media said the operation was related to last year's “Barçagate,” in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and the then-president, Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid one million euros in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Lionel Messi. The club has been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The operation comes less than a week before presidential elections are to be held at the club.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

 

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