FC Barcelona News

"Barcagate Was Damage Control" After Pep Guardiola and Co. "Attacked Club", Claims I3 Ventures Owner

By Amreen
Josep Maria Bartomeu allegedly smeared Pep Guardiola's name on social media
Josep Maria Bartomeu allegedly smeared Pep Guardiola's name on social media / David Ramos/Getty Images

The owner of I3 Ventures, Carlos Ibanez, has claimed "Barcagate" was a damage control operation to "protect" the club's prestige from attacks by former club officials like Pep Guardiola and Joan Laporta.

Barcelona have been embroiled in the long-running scandal, with reports claiming that the club's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu hired I3 to hit back at criticism directed at his "poor" management of the club.

Ibanez, who is currently facing trial on corruption charges, revealed details of the work he did for Bartomeu. When asked in court why the smear campaign focused on Guardiola and Laporta, Ibanez insisted that it was a protective measure for the club rather than a means to discredit individuals.

He said (via AS): "It has to do not with improving Barca's prestige, but with protecting it from harm. All the people you mention attacked Barca and what we did was try to control the damage. We had to protect the institution from harm.

"If someone says that [former coach Ernesto] Valverde has to go because Guardiola is a soccer star, what one of these channels does is show that Pep Guardiola has not won any championship for three seasons.

“Does that discredit Guardiola? No. This is a reality, it is a fact. If you don't win championships, you don't win championships. Do not attack Valverde, who is part of our institution, saying that Guardiola is going to be the saviour when he does not actually win championships.”

In February of 2020, it was reported that ​​Barcelona ​hired PR firm I3 Ventures for their social media channels which were aimed at tarnishing the images of a number of players and coaches associated with the club, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique.

The 'Barcagate' scandal led to a number of resignations and eventually led to Bartomeu being ousted from his position at the club.