- The president confirms that I3 Ventures had financial links to the club.
- The contract with the PR company has been terminated.
- Bartomeu insists that Barca leadership weren't aware of the company smear posting about the players.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has commented on the club's affiliation with I3 Ventures and alleged involvement in the smear campaign against Barca players and legends.
"It is false that we have paid to spread negative things about anyone," the president said during the press conference assembled to clarify the issue.
"Barca has never hired any service to discredit anyone, neither player nor former player nor politician or president or former president. It is false and we defend it by all means at our disposal.
"This morning I gave the order to terminate the contract with I3 Ventures after it has been verified that one of the accounts linked to this company has made inappropriate comments to people in our organization.
"Yes, we have and we will continue to do this type of monitoring on social media, because we consider it obligatory. But we have not commissioned to discredit people or entities and we will persecute all those who accuse us."
According to the sensational Ser Catalunya's report, FC Barcelona have paid almost €1m to hire multiple social media accounts to 'protect the reputation of Josep Maria Bartomeu' and 'erode the image of ex-players, election candidates, etc', as the source puts it.
These so-called 'social media influencers' were working for the PR company I3 Ventures. Ser Catalunya mentions 'dozens of accounts' on both Facebook and Twitter. Marca believe their number is close to 100.
They were allegedly trying to provoke the audience by discussing such controversial subjects as Leo Messi's new contract, Gerard Pique's off-field business activities and other current squad issues.
Bartomeu is also set to meet Messi and his vice-captains to clarify the situation.