Barcelona arrests: Ronald Koeman ‘devastated’, Josep Maria Bartomeu released

Barcelona's ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu presents Ronald Koeman as manager
Former player Ronald Koeman was Josep Maria Bartomeu’s final appointment as Barca manager

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman says he is “devastated” at the arrest of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu following an investigation into the club’s financial issues.

Bartomeu was one of four arrests in what police called “an investigation into alleged crimes related to property and the socio-economic order”.

Bartomeu, who resigned as president in October, was released on Tuesday.

“It’s not good for the image of the club,” said Koeman.

The arrests were made by Catalan police on Monday after an investigation into financial issues at the 26-time Spanish champions.

Bartomeu and his former adviser Jaume Masferrer spent the night in a Barcelona police station, while the club’s chief executive Oscar Grau and legal services director Roman Gomez Ponti were detained and released later in the day.

The investigation is thought to relate to the ‘Barcagate’ scandal in 2020, when the club denied hiring a firm to attack their own players on social media.

Bartomeu, who was elected president in 2014, was under increasing pressure before his resignation, with fans calling for his removal as well as having fallen out with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Elections for the club’s next president take place on Sunday.

On the field, Koeman’s side return to action for the first time since the arrests when they host Sevilla in a Copa del Rey semi-final second leg on Wednesday, trailing 2-0 from the first game.

“When I heard the news I was devastated because I know Bartomeu and Grau well,” said former captain Koeman, who returned to the Catalan club as manager in August.

“I feel bad for them, I had good moments with them in a short space of time and Bartomeu has always been an exceptional person to me.

“We have to wait and see what happens (with the investigation). I wasn’t here then so I can’t talk about. it, we just have to focus on our job and in turning the tie around.”

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