The recent controversy surrounding Barcelona hiring a social media company to discredit its own players had the fans demanding the resignation of President Josep Bartomeu. Speaking for the first time since being accused, Josep Bartomeu denied hiring a social media company to attack its players.
Barcelona confirms it has broken contract with a company it had hired for making negative comments about club staff without its knowledge. Whatever the truth here, sign of the age and issues facing the club that president has to discuss this. https://t.co/OFHM6Lt1Ik— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) February 18, 2020
Josep Bartomeu was present at the XIV Vazquez Montalban International Journalism Awards, where he admitted that I3 Ventures had been hired by the club to improve the image of Barcelona on social media. However, Bartomeu insisted that the club was oblivious to their connections to Respeto y Deporte, the account that was accused of attacking the Barcelona players. Bartomeu further noted that Barcelona has since terminated its contract with I3 Ventures.
Speaking at the event, Bartomeu said, "It has been confirmed that an account of the ones related to this issue, is run by I3 ventures, and we are planning to terminate our contract with them. Yes, we have and we will continue to do this type of monitoring on social media because we consider it obligatory. But we have not commissioned to discredit people or entities and we will persecute all those who accuse us."
A Spanish media outlet broke the news and stated that a social media company was contracted by Barcelona to boost the public profile of the board of directors at the club. However, the outlet also reported that the company was tasked with discrediting several individuals with strong links to the club, including the likes of Lionel Messi and Pique.
Yesterday, Bartomeu spoke with Messi, Busquets, Piqué and Sergi, as well as Setién for 35 minutes to clarify the entire I3 Ventures fiasco. The meeting was tense and the captains remain uneasy about the whole situation. [espn] pic.twitter.com/bApdJUt5is— barcacentre (@barcacentre) February 19, 2020