Barcelona’s own worst enemy continues to be, well, Barcelona if reports are to be believed.
The call for unity by the players only lasted a few weeks as the internal turmoil at Barcelona reached new heights. According to Cadena Ser, the board hired a company in order to make the president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, look good while at the same time attacking anyone who is seen as a threat.
The company, callled I3 Ventures, was tasked with creating accounts on social media to protect the reputation of Bartomeu. Those accounts were also tasked with criticizing current players like Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique, former club legends like Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, and Pep Guardiola as well as former president Joan Laporta and Victor Font who is likely to run for president in the next elections.
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In essence, they were hired to create a positive narrative towards the current board and criticize those who have come out against them.
I3 Ventures created memes on Twitter and Facebook. In an article written by Diario Sport, they have examples of some of the memes attacking not Pique, Xavi and Guardiola.
Victor Font has released a statement calling for the board to come out and explain the latest accusation.
His statement also says,
"“If these facts are confirmed, it means that, with money from the Club, the Board of Directors has gone against its own partners, first-team football players, entities in Catalan society and the media.This defamation campaign that today has been reported by a journalistic entity stains Barça, embarrasses us as partners and aggravates the reality of the club because now it adds moral bankruptcy to the delicate sporting and economic situation.”"
Unfortunately, the latest claims on the board’s behavior is not hard to believe. With elections coming up, the goal is to have someone close to Bartomeu succeed him and not someone like Font.
For anyone wondering why they would attack current and former legends, it’s because they have, either directly or indirectly, criticized the board or left them in unenviable positions.
With regard to Lionel Messi, he has yet to sign a new contract and recently hit out at the board after an interview by Eric Abidal in which the Frenchman claimed that the reason they fired Ernesto Valverde was because of the players. Messi took to Instagram to say that the players had nothing do with it and to name names if that was the case.
Gerard Pique has made no secret that one day he hopes to be Barcelona president and has done things like bring in Rakuten to be a new sponsor. In addition, he’s taken to outside ventures like bringing in the Davis Cup. But perhaps the club is still not over the fact that he produced Antoine Griezmann’s documentary when he rejected Barcelona the first time and did not inform the board.
As for Xavi, Puyol and Guardiola, the first two declined to take a job with the club and one of the reasons Guardiola left Barcelona was because of the board.
Each of the names they’ve gone after have a strenuous relationship with the board and their opinions hold weight. So it should be no surprise that’s who the company were told to allegedly target.
Social media has long been used by Barcelona supporters worldwide to voice their displeasure at the current board. It makes sense that it would be the place where the club would try to shape a narrative to their favor. Whether it worked or is going to work is a different question.
Expect Bartomeu to categorically deny the allegation but the damage has been done. Rumors and reports of the players’ discontent with management have long been around and this is only going to make things worse.
Jordi Alba said it best when he said that the club “gets enough shit thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn’t be throwing shit at ourselves as well.”
It appears that the board didn’t take his advice. It’s another chapter in the self-destruction of Barcelona. We’ll see how badly this one damages the club.