March 21, 2023

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has denied claims he was behind the leaking of Lionel Messi’s contract.

Bartomeu is among the former Barcelona board members who are under formal investigation by Catalan police, the Mossos, over the Barçagate scandal, which centres on allegations that the club hired a social media agency to attack players and staff online to lower public opinion of them, splitting the payments up over a number of months to avoid having to declare the deal.

The Mossos released a report on the scandal earlier this week and argued that Bartomeu was aware of the plot to leak Messi’s contract.

“Everything indicates that Oscar Grau and Roman Gomez-Ponti wanted and intended to make public the personal data of FC Barcelona workers such as Leo Messi and Gerard Pique,” a statement read.

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“Josep Maria Bartomeu had direct knowledge of these claims, so it cannot be ruled out that these people be collaborators.”

Asked for a comment on the claims, Bartomeu has denied any involvement.

“I want to clarify that I have not carried out any of these leaks, I have not authorised any of these leaks and I have not had prior knowledge of any leaks,” he said in an interview.

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In the Mossos report, WhatsApp messages are included in which Bartomeu appears to have no prior knowledge of the leaks.

“This leak could only be from the club, it has never been made public and I understand that only a few people have access to Messi’s contract,” Bartomeu wrote to other board members.

“I don’t think it was a leak from him to leave. Whoever leaked this wanted to damage the club.”

While the leaking of such personal data is in itself a crime, it is unclear whether Bartomeu and the other former Barcelona officials will face charges as the Mossos’ investigation is focused solely on the Barçagate scandal.

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