Spanish La Liga champions Barcelona were in turmoil on Friday after six directors quit in the latest unraveling of the club’s hierarchy that fans and players are increasingly angry at.
The board members’ protest deepened chaos at the world’s richest club, hit by plunging revenues during the coronavirus crisis, fan protests in the last games before soccer was suspended, and even criticism from club captain Lionel Messi.
The departing directors criticized the club’s handling of a social media scandal and expressed doubts about the board’s ability to handle the implications of the pandemic, which has led to a 70 percent players’ pay cut.
Two of the club’s four vice presidents, Emili Rousaud and Enrique Tombas, were among those to announce their resignation in a letter to fans published in Spanish media on Friday.
They were joined by directors Silvio Elias, Josep Pont, Jordi Calsamiglia and Maria Texidor.
They asked president Josep Maria Bartomeu to call presidential elections as soon as possible and voiced “displeasure” over the club’s hiring of a third party, I3 Ventures, earlier this year to monitor social media coverage of Barca.
Bartomeu has denied accusations the company created social media accounts to smear future presidential candidates, and former and current players, but he anyway rescinded the club’s contract with the firm. I3 Ventures also denied any wrongdoing.
“We have arrived at this point because we cannot reverse the way the club is managed in the face of important challenges in the future, especially in the post-pandemic era,” added the letter.
“As our last act of service to the club, we recommend that elections are called as soon as circumstances permit so that the club can be managed in the best way possible and deal with the important challenges of the immediate future.”
There was no immediate reaction from Barcelona or Bartomeu.