Barcelona chaos: Ex-president Bartomeu released pending corruption charges

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and ex-adviser Jaume Masferrer were released pending charges on Tuesday after spending Monday night in custody, sources have confirmed to ESPN.

Bartomeu and Masferrer were two of four people connected to Barca who were arrested on Monday following raids at five locations around the Catalan city, including the offices at Camp Nou, as part of police investigation into the Barcagate scandal. The duo appeared in court on Tuesday, where they referred to their right to not declare before being freed for now. Barca CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services, Roman Gomez Ponti, were the other two men detained. They were released pending charges on Monday.

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As a club, Barca are not facing any charges, with the judge in the case ruling that they are an affected party.

A police source confirmed to ESPN on Monday that the yearlong operation into Barcagate has been carried out in collaboration with the financial crimes unit. Its focus is the value of the contracts between Barca and third-party companies who were contracted to monitor social networks for the club.

One of those companies, I3 Ventures, was subsequently found to have ran smear campaigns against current and former players, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique, and presidential candidates such as Joan Laporta and Victor Font.

However, it's the movement of money around the contracts that is the source of the investigation, rather than the attacks.

The details of the case are under a secrecy order, but that is due to be lifted later on Tuesday.

The Barcagate case was first uncovered last February by radio station Cadena Ser. Bartomeu denied all knowledge of the social media smear campaigns and rescinded the contract with I3 Ventures.

Masferrer was briefly suspended from his role after being held responsible for the club's relationship with I3 Ventures but later returned to his role working alongside Bartomeu.

An external audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers later cleared the club of any wrongdoing and also found that Barca did not pay an inflated price for a number of services with I3, absolving the club of any corruption on a financial level, but the police investigation has remained ongoing.

Meanwhile, Barca coach Ronald Koeman said he was upset when he learned of Bartomeu's arrest. Bartomeu appointed Koeman last August, and the Barca coach called on the club to focus on Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal return leg against Sevilla.

"It's not good for the club's image," Koeman said regarding Monday's raids. "We will have to wait and see what's happened. I wasn't here at the time, I don't know. We can't do anything about it, we just have to focus on football.

"When the news came out, I was devastated [for Bartomeu] because I know him well -- and for Oscar Grau, who was among the four people detained. I felt bad for them because I had some big moments with them, even if our time together was brief. For me, Bartomeu has always been an exceptional person."

Barca are 2-0 down going into the Sevilla game this week, but Koeman said the club are confident of turning things around to reach the cup final after beating Sevilla 2-0 in the league on Saturday.

Midfielder Pedri is set to be available for the game, despite being ruled out for two weeks on Sunday with a calf injury, after making a quick recovery.