Madrid (AFP)

The president of FC Barcelona under heavy fire. As if the maximum distrust of his players, Lionel Messi at the head, was not enough, Josep Bartomeu faces a sling from part of the management: six leaders resigned en bloc to decry his management and demand early elections.

If La Liga is suspended due to coronavirus, the restless season of FC Barcelona behind the scenes, it continues. After the passing of arms between the blaugrana locker room and its management around the negotiations on temporary salary cuts, the Catalan club is shaken by a fight at its peak.

Six members of the board of directors resigned Thursday evening, saying, in a letter to the socios of Barça, unable to "change the criteria and the forms of management of the club in the face of the important challenges of the future".

From a legal point of view, nothing to prevent Bartomeu from going to the end of his current mandate until June 2021 but this direct attack comes to undermine a little more the authority of a president already weakened by a hidden conflict with the stars of the club.

Among the resigners are the now ex-treasurer of Barça, Enric Tombas, as well as Emili Rousaud, vice-president considered until then as a possible successor to Bartomeu in the next elections.

- "Barçagate" -

"We must emphasize our disappointment at the unfortunate episode on social networks, known as + Barçagate +, which we learned about in the press", scrap the "Six". A way of placing responsibility for this affair, which has been poisoning the blaugrana atmosphere for two months, on the ever smaller circle of Bartomeu.

At the heart of "Barçagate", revelations from radio Cadena Ser on the supposed use, by the management of the Catalan club, of the company I3Ventures to discredit on social networks, via false accounts, opponents of the board of directors including stars Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué if necessary.

"To the question: did we commission an operation aimed at discrediting people or institutions through social networks, the answer is no", Bartomeu had defended himself in February, when the affair broke out, simply indicating that the he company was responsible for carrying out monitoring work on the internet.

In the initial scandal, were added Friday accusations of corruption. The audit ordered by the club with PricewaterhouseCoopers would have cost a million euros, according to Cadena Ser. A sum that surprises former vice-president Emili Rousaud.

- "Someone has drawn from the box" -

"If the listeners tell us that the cost of these services is 100,000 euros and that we have paid a million euros, it means that someone has drawn from the till," he said on radio on Friday. Rac1.

Allegations denied in the process by the club, which does not deny having paid this amount but refutes the facts of corruption: "FC Barcelona categorically denies any action which could be qualified as corruption, and therefore reserves the right to initiate the appropriate legal actions ", warns Barça in a press release.

As for the audit, it "is still in progress" and "therefore did not lead to any conclusions" on this episode having further deteriorated the relationship of management with the players.

At the end of last summer, Messi's first outing, wondering if the club had done "everything possible to bring back Neymar", announced a turbulent season.

Then just before the "Barçagate", the quintuple Ballon d'Or was still out of its usual discretion to ask its sports director Eric Abidal to "give names" when it seemed to take responsibility for the dismissal of the ex-coach Ernesto Valverde on the players.

And rather than offering a truce, the pandemic was the occasion of new heartbreak in public on the issue of wage cuts of 70% agreed by the players.

"It surprises us a lot that from the club, internally, some people want to put us under criticism" had tackled the "Pulga" after articles reporting an initial refusal.

© 2020 AFP