Barcelona deny corruption after six board members resign

(File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 10 April 2020

Barcelona deny corruption after six board members resign

  • All six resigning board members called for the 2021 presidential elections to be brought forward
  • The football club continues to be embroiled in political crisis under their current president Josep Maria Bartomeu

MADRID: Barcelona have denied what the club describes as “serious and unfounded accusations” of corruption after a former vice president claimed someone “had put their hands in the till.”
Emili Rousaud was one of six board members to resign on Thursday night as Barca continue to be embroiled in political crisis under their current president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
All six resigning board members called for the 2021 presidential elections to be brought forward in a joint letter published on Friday by the newspaper La Vanguardia.
In an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, Rousaud discussed the social media controversy that rocked the club in February, when Barcelona were accused of hiring a company called I3 Ventures to discredit opponents of Bartomeu online, including players like Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique.
“If the auditors tell us the cost of these services is 100,000 euros and we have paid one million, it means someone has put their hand in the till. I have no evidence and I cannot say who,” Rousaud told the program RAC1 on Friday.
Barcelona responded with an official statement that read: “In the light of the serious and unfounded accusations made this morning by Emili Rousaud, ex-vice president of the club, in different interviews with the media, FC Barcelona categorically denies any activity that can be described as corruption and therefore reserves the right to any legal action that may correspond.”
Bartomeu terminated the club’s contract with I3 Ventures in February. He said the company had been hired only to monitor posts on social media and announced an internal audit to investigate any irregularity.
“The analysis of the monitoring services of social networks is being subjected to an independent audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which is still ongoing and, therefore, without any conclusions,” Barcelona’s statement added.
Rousaud had been appointed as a club vice president in January and was seen as a leading candidate to succeed Bartomeu, who cannot stand again when the presidential elections come round next year.
Instead, Rousaud has quit, citing frustrations with the club’s management, along with fellow vice president Enrique Tombas, as well as directors Silvio Elias, Josep Pont, Jordi Calsamiglia and Maria Teixidor.
Bartomeu has overseen a string of political spats in recent months being played out in public, with Messi also involved.
Messi reacted angrily in January to Eric Abidal, the club’s technical secretary, suggesting the players were to blame for the sacking of Ernesto Valverde and last month, the Argentinian criticized the club’s handling of negotiations with the squad over pay cuts.
Those remaining swiftly addressed the resignations from the board. “The resignations of the members of the board of directors announced over the last few hours have come about due to a reorganization of the board put forward by president Josep Maria Bartomeu and which will be completed in the next few days,” the statement added.


The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

Updated 35 min 30 sec ago

The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

LeBron James believed he could win every time he advanced to the NBA Finals.
A couple occasions, he realistically had little chance. His first and last appearances in Cleveland ended in sweeps, overmatched Cavaliers teams routed by San Antonio in 2007 and Golden State in 2018.
In his 10th NBA Finals, he sees his first opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers the same way he viewed his trips in Cleveland and Miami.
“The game is won between the four lines, not won on paper,” James said. “At the end of the day, when I’ve lost in the finals, the better team won because they played well, they were more prepared and they did what they needed to do to win those four games.”
This time, that’s going to be his team.
With Anthony Davis alongside James, the Lakers are armed with the same type of firepower they had when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led them to the first of three straight titles 20 years ago.
The two first-team selections to the All-NBA team have combined for 60 or more points 20 times in their first season together, and the Lakers have won 19.
They are now set up to win the Lakers’ first title in a decade.
“Now we want to make sure that we finish this thing off right,” Davis said.
James shows almost no drop-off at 35, tying his career high with four triple-doubles in these playoffs. He is averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists, numbers no player has ever reached through his first 15 games of a postseason.
Davis has been just as dominant, right about at his career postseason average of 29.6 points that trails only Michael Jordan (33.4) and Allen Iverson (29.7) among players who have appeared in at least 25 games.
The Heat, with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler anchoring a strong defense, might be able to take one of them away. Nobody is stopping both.
The Lakers’ role players give them plenty of support, from playoff-tested veterans Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Danny Green, to newcomers such as Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. Los Angeles is shooting 49.8% as a team, tops in the postseason.
The Lakers are also limiting teams to 106.5 points, third-lowest in the playoffs, and the Heat might be the least explosive squad they will have faced. Portland had Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Houston followed with NBA scoring leader James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and Denver boasted Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the top two players in total points in the playoffs.
Los Angeles knocked all three teams out in five games.
Once they did, thoughts turned to the proper way to cap off what’s been a challenging season for the Lakers. A preseason trip to China turned turbulent following Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting democratic protesters in Hong Kong. Bryant, a franchise icon, was killed in a helicopter crash in January. The coronavirus pandemic halted the season and forced players to be away from their families for months when it resumed.
Four more wins and the Lakers can go home to them.
“Every day since we been in the bubble it’s been like, man, this is a great opportunity. Take full advantage of it and stay in the moment,” Howard said. “You know, even after we won the Western Conference finals, I wanted to be like, all right, this is not the goal just to win the Western Conference finals. The goal is the win the championship.”
They will. Lakers in five.
___
Brian Mahoney is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at bmahoney(at)ap.org