Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
The Spanish journalist who uncovered Barcelona’s alleged hiring of a company spearheading a smear campaign against the club’s own players has given further details on why Messi and Gerard Pique were targeted.
Spanish journalist Sique Rodriguez first made headlines yesterday (Monday) after claiming to have evidence proving that Barcelona bosses hired the company I3 Ventures to plan and carry out a smear campaign against their own players to improve Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s image.
The initial report was revealed on radio programme ‘Que t’hi Jugues!’ broadcast by Spanish radio network Cadena SER.
When speaking with Argentine news outlet ‘Infobae’, Rodriguez claimed that Barcelona directors hired the services of I3 Ventures in Argentina and whose parent company is named ‘Nice Stream’.
When speaking about why Messi, 32, was targeted in the alleged campaign, Rodriguez said: “I do not think he is a target for Barcelona but instead is used to generate an opinion that the front office wants to impose.
“When things about Antonella, his wife, appeared on social media, it was more to generate traffic on their websites than for any specific criticism.”
Rodriguez claimed the attacks on Messi were actually directed towards Spanish businessman and president of Mediapro Jaume Roures, 70, as the two are opening a theme park in China.
Rodriguez said the attacks on Messi were “more to attack businessman Jaume Roures with whom they (Barcelona) have a total war against.”
Referring to criticism Messi received for not immediately extending his contract in 2017, Rodriguez said: “That is why they say the cause for the player’s delay is because he has tens of millions of euros invested in the design, development and construction of the ‘Messi Experience Park’, a theme park in China”.
When speaking about former Manchester United defender Gerard Pique, 33, Rodriguez said: “I think Gerard Pique is a target for the Barcelona front office because things have been bad with him for months.
“In September the defender already warned that things would not out work well if everyone was not pulling in the same direction.”
Rodriguez claims Barcelona “are going to deny and hold out until the storm passes and will sever all ties with the company.
“They will justify everything by saying that it is a digital battle Barcelona had to deal with.”
When speaking about the possible consequences for the club, Rodriguez said: “it is going to depend on the results.
“It is one thing if you win La Liga or Champions League and another if you finish the season empty-handed.”
Despite Barcelona denying the reports of any involvement or knowledge of the smear campaign, Rodriguez said that his claims are “confirmed by the same people that deny” them and will show his proof “according to the club’s response”.
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