Josep Maria Bartomeu has denied leaking Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract to the media.
There was a furor Sunday when Spanish newspaper El Mundo ran leaked documents detailing the contract of the world’s best player.
The details of the contract revealed that Messi picks up fixed incomes and bonus payments which amount to €138 million (£112 million/$167 million) in annual earnings.
Barcelona was quick to express its fury and said legal proceedings would be taken.
Following the newspaper splash, focus shifted to who was responsible for the contract getting in the hands of El Mundo.
Fingers were pointed in the direction of Bartomeu, who resigned from his position as president of Barcelona last year, but he has denied being responsible.
“It’s a very serious issue and it’s totally illegal to leak professional contracts,” Marca quoted Bartomeu as saying. “Speaking on TV and making accusations is easy, but it’s not a joke and this will end up in court.
“I hear certain media suggest that someone from the outgoing board or I have leaked this contract. And this is totally false.
“This is a very serious issue, it is totally illegal to filter professional contracts and this will end up in court because neither Barca nor Messi can accept that this crime comes to nothing.
“I don’t know who it was. In fact in the club only four or five people have access to the contracts, so do the Cuatrecasas lawyers who participated in the negotiation and the LFP also has a copy of all the players’ contracts.”
Eyebrows were raised at the amount of money Messi is paid, but Bartomeu has said he is worth every cent and the club could comfortably afford to finance the contract prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The player deserves the amount because he generates in excess of that, both for his sporting contribution and for his commercial contribution,” Bartomeu said. “Without the crisis due to the pandemic, Barca can easily pay these figures and those of the other players.”
The saga is likely to rumble on for some time yet, but Barca will hope Messi and his teammates can retain focus as they push for honors in the second half of the season.