atalan police entered Barcelona‘s Camp Nou stadium on Monday morning in a search and seize operation, with the club’s former president Josep Maria Bartomeu among those reportedly arrested, according to Spanish media.
Barca confirmed authorities from Mossos d’Esquadra’s Economic Offences Unit were at their headquarters but did not provide any further detail, while Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force, told AFP “arrests are taking place” and that they “are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit”.
Spanish radio station Cadena SER claimed Bartomeu, current chief executive Òscar Grau, and Barcelona’s head of legal services, Román Gómez Pontí were detained on suspicion of “unfair administration, corruption between individuals and money laundering”.
Spanish media said the operation was related to the “Barcagate” scandal of last year, in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and Bartomeu during his presidency.
Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned in October amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Lionel Messi’s desire to leave the club, which been beset by political turmoil and debt caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The operation comes less than a week before presidential elections are to be held at Barca. More than 20,000 Barcelona members have already cast their vote via postal ballot, with three candidates – Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freia – on the final ballot for the pivotal election.