Former FC Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has been arrested following a raid on the club’s offices on Monday.
According to reports by El Pais, a Spanish-language daily newspaper in Spain, the arrest is in relation to the “Barcagate” scandal in which the club allegedly hired a social media company to publicly discredit players and staff.
The club’s CEO Oscar Grau and Roman Gómez Ponti, the club’s head of legal, were also taken into custody.
It was claimed that he and his regime had hired I3 Ventures to protect his reputation, while smearing the names of the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Pep Guardiola and other club legends, as well as outspoken critics of Bartomeu.
Officials strongly denied the allegations and rescinded their contract with I3 Ventures, the company behind the social media accounts.
Bartomeu resigned in October, departing after six years at the helm after an uneasy summer in which club captain Messi publicly made clear his desire to leave because of the club’s hierarchy.
This arrest comes less than a week before presidential elections are to be held, with three candidates – Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freia – on the final ballot for the crucial vote.