Barcelona did not use social media to discredit players – Bartomeu
Josep Maria Bartomeu insists Barcelona did not use a social media company to discredit players, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique.FotMob - over 1 year ago
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has denied the club hired a social media contractor in order to discredit the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Pep Guardiola.
Spanish radio network Cadena SER reported on Monday that an independent social media company was contracted by Barca to boost the public profile of the current board of directors.
The reports also stated the company was tasked with undermining individuals with strong links to the club, including current stars Messi and Pique, former coach Guardiola and midfield icon Xavi.
Following a strong statement of denial on Monday, Bartomeu, while acknowledging Barca had hired I3 Ventures – the company in question – has reiterated the club's stance.
"I want to make it clear for the [Barca] members and everyone, because I have heard different versions," Bartomeu said at the XIV Vazquez Montalban International Journalism Awards.
"First of all, I have to say that Barcelona haven't hired any service to discredit anyone. Not the players, the executives, ex-presidents. That is totally false.
"We will defend ourselves on this by all means and in front of anyone who accuses us of doing this. I repeat again, it is false that Barcelona, in any case, has hired someone to discredit anyone."
However, with I3 Ventures connected to one of the accounts named in the reports – Respeto y Deporte (Respect and Sport) – Bartomeu confirmed Barca have ended their relationship with the contractor.
"It is true that at the end of 2017, Barcelona hired a service to monitor different areas of the club on social media, as the majority of the clubs have done," he added.
"After the confirmation that one of the accounts linked to one of this company's suppliers made inappropriate comments about people related to our organisation, I have given instructions personally to terminate the contract with this company.
"I want to make something clear. Regarding the question of if we have ordered anyone to monitor social media, the answer is yes and we will still do it.
"It is the responsibility of this club to know what is going on and what it is being said around the world, always to preserve Barcelona.
"Regarding the question of if we have ordered people or institutions to be discredited through social media, the answer is no and we will persecute anyone who accuses us of it."