Did Barcelona president Bartomeo contract her company to criticize Messi and the players?
February 17, 2020
Spanish football club Barcelona denied on Monday an attempt to enhance the image of its President Josep Maria Bartomeo by contracting a company to criticize current and former players, including Argentine star Lionel Messi, on social media.
The Spanish radio station Cadena Sir Catalonia reported that the club signed a contract with the public relations company “i3 Ventures” which supervised “dozens” of accounts that attacked players such as Messi, Gerard Pique and the current Qatari Al Sadd coach, former player Xavi Hernandez and the former coach currently supervising Manchester City Englishman Josep Guardiola and former captain Carles Puyol on Facebook and Twitter.
Among the messages cited in the report are one expressing anger toward Messi over the delay in signing a new contract, and another raising questions about Pique’s role in the Davis Cup tennis tournament.
Barcelona denied in its statement on its relationship with the matter, vehemently denying, “contracting services related to social media accounts, published negative messages or contempt related to any person, entity or organization that has a relationship with the club.”
The statement stressed that he cooperated with “communications monitoring services” to track what was written about the club, but that “it has nothing to do with these accounts”, threatening to take legal measures against any media outlet that continues to “involve” his name in this.
The controversy adds to pressure on Bartomeo and the club’s management ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for next year.
In a statement, the campaign “Yes to the Future” headed by candidate Victor Font Fonte, who is competing with Bartomeo, considered that the recent allegations are “very serious”.
The Spanish champions, La Liga, have faced troubled stations in recent times, including the dismissal of its coach Ernesto Valverde and the appointment of Kiki Citen to replace him, and a public debate between Messi and French sports director Eric Abidal.
Bartomeo acknowledged that the club should have had a better deal with the coach’s dismissal last month, particularly the leaking of contact with Xavi to take over as coach while Valverde was still in office.
Abidal also made statements about the conditions of the dismissal of Valverde, which had raised Messi’s ire and entailed a harsh response from the best player in the world six times.
“Many players were dissatisfied and not working a lot, and there was an internal communication problem. The relationship between the players and the coach was always good, but some things I feel like are a former player. I told the club how I feel, and had to take resolution”.
Messi replied on his Instagram page, saying: “Frankly, I do not like this kind of thing, but I think everyone should be responsible for his duties and bear the responsibilities of his decisions. We are the first to bear the responsibility when we are not good. Managers must also bear their responsibilities.”
Bartomeo then called for a meeting between Messi and Abidal to calm things down, especially as the team is approaching an important period in the season’s course, as Eibar meets at home in La Liga on Saturday, before he visits Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League final price match, and confront the opponent. Real Madrid on the recent ground in the local championship.
Barcelona is seeking to win the Spanish League title for the third season in succession, and it currently occupies second place with 52 points, just one point behind its rivals Real, after playing 24 of 38 matches each.