FC Barcelona’s board should offer up the resignations of anyone involved with a secret, paid campaign to attack club legends and presidential candidates, as alleged by the media.
The club through an official statement denied carrying out such actions. One hopes this is the case, for their sake. But the reports come from a respected media outlet, Cadena SER. Fans should be excused if they don’t simply take the club’s word for it.
According to the report, the club paid about one million euro to a company called I3 Ventures. As part of this “astroturfing” campaign, I3 Ventures allegedly criticized current players such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué, and club icons like Pep Guardiola, Xavi Hernández and Carles Puyol.
In addition, the campaign was said to attack presumptive candidates for Barcelona president such as Víctor Font, Joan Laporta, and Agustí Benedito, as well as local political and business leaders.
The club admitted to paying the company but maintained it was only for analytics, and denied any critical attacks.
Again, if the allegations are true, we are talking about a massive, secret, and coordinated smear campaign not just aimed at helping Barcelona as a club, but personally benefiting the current board, and specifically, the current president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Fans will lose confidence in the club if their beloved stars are being attacked by the club itself for political interests. Furthermore, a free and fair election for Bartomeu’s replacement cannot take place if there are hidden campaigns.
Once again, I’m keen to repeat, that the club denies wrongdoing. If there is a sensible explanation or more evidence that can prove their innocence, I would be glad to hear it. But if this is in fact true, we are talking about something extremely grave. We must know who is responsible and what price they will pay.