February 18 – FC Barcelona have lurched from one crisis to the next this season. The latest controversy is over local media reports that the Catalan giants contracted the services of I3 Ventures, a social media company, to damage the reputations of key players, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique.
The club has denied the allegations that Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu hired l3 Ventures to help improve his image and protect the reputation of his board, at the repetitional expense of Messi and others.
Victor Font, a potential candidate in the 2021 presidential elections at Camp Nou, was also among those reported to be a target of abusive posts. Bartomeu has been heading the club for six years, but won’t be standing for re-election.
In a statement, the club said: “With regards to information published today about the contracting of a company dedicated to creating opinion on social media with a view to damaging the image of third parties related directly or indirectly with the club, FC Barcelona roundly deny any relationship, and furthermore, the contracting of services linked to social media accounts that have broadcast negative or disparaging messages related to any person, entity or organisation that may be, or have been, related to the club.”
“I3 Ventures, a service provider to the club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship was to come to light, the club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests.
“As such, FC Barcelona confirm that it has services contracted relating to the monitoring of social media with the aim of analysing both positive and negative messages about the organisation itself.”
Barcelona also demanded the immediate rectification of the media publications. This weekend, they host Eibar in La Liga before taking on Napoli in the Champions League next week.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1585575953labto1585575953ofdlr1585575953owedi1585575953sni@o1585575953fni1585575953