Several arrested after police enter FC Barcelona stadium in search operation

Several people were arrested by Spanish police on Monday as part of an investigation into FC Barcelona.

It comes shortly after officers entered Barcelona’s stadium in a search and seize operation.

Spanish media said the operation was related to last year’s “Barçagate,” in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Some of the people supposedly targeted included Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué, as well as former coach Pep Guardiola.

Barcelona had denied accusations that it hired — and overpaid — a company to make negative comments about its own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior club officials.

The club later released an independent audit report showing that there was no wrongdoing.

Police in Catalonia confirmed the arrests but declined to reveal who was detained. According to local media, Bartomeu is among those in custody.

Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Lionel Messi. The club has been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The operation comes less than a week before presidential elections are to be held at the club.

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