Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman admitted that the arrests of four officials associated with the club have put a blemish on Barça's storied reputation.
Former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was among four Barcelona associates arrested on Monday after police raided the club headquarters in a social media scandal that Spanish media outlets have dubbed "Barcagate." The yearlong investigation is centered on Barcelona's financial relationship with third-party consultant firms hired to improve the club's social media imprint.
"It's not good for the image of the club," Koeman said at a pre-match press conference on Tuesday. "One must wait to find out what has happened. I wasn't here at the time so I can't comment on it. The only thing that we have to do is focus on our work and try to overcome the deficit tomorrow [against Sevilla].
"When the news came out the other day, I was devastated because I know Bartomeu well, along with Oscar Grau who was one of the four people [arrested]. I feel very bad for them because I've had a lot of important moments with them in a short period of time. To me, Bartomeu has always been an exceptional person."
According to ESPN, a firm hired by the club known as I3 Ventures ran smear campaigns against several club figures including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, former manager Pep Guardiola, and candidates running for club president. Barcelona denied the claims before ending their association with I3 Ventures last year.
It continues to be a tumultuous year for the Blaugrana, who currently sit second in La Liga behind Atletico Madrid. After failing to win a trophy in 2020, Barcelona endured a turbulent start to the season which included a transfer request from Messi, Bartomeu's resignation, and the departure of several high-paid players as the club looked to reduce debts totaling $1.4 billion.
In its first match since the arrests, Barcelona will look to overcome a 2–0 deficit against Sevilla on Wednesday in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals.