Much has been said about the crisis inside Spanish side FC Barcelona. While most people have been more concerned about the fact that the crisis has led to the announcement of club captain Lionel Messi that he wanted to leave last summer, there is so much more that has been going on at the club.

People have started to dig deeper into the issues that have now been collectively called "Baragate" due to Messi's shocking decision to try to leave his beloved club. While his massive release clause prevented him from doing so, the desire to leave has put the spotlight firmly on what is wrong with the club.

Everything can be traced back to 2017, when the club discovered that "bot" social media accounts have been attacking then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the club itself. In response, Bartomeu allegedly decided to fight the cyberattacks by adopting the same strategy, which is to create a social media army of his own.

Companies were reportedly hired by the club, under the orders of Bartomeu, to attack those who were openly criticising his regime. Those targeted included current president Joan Laporta, as well as a host of former and current players.

Other than Bartomeu, other club officials such as Jaume Masferrer, Oscar Grau and Roman Gomez Ponti were allegedly also involved in the scheme. Other board of directors were kept in the dark by keeping the payments to the social media companies low and spread out in increments below 200,000 euros so that the board does not have to sign off on the payments.

Spanish publication Cadena SER broke the news first, which led to the members and players losing faith in Bartomeu's administration. The entire board has since resigned and a new administration under Joan Laporta is now in charge.

The club has previously denied the allegations, but after the arrests of four former officials including Bartomeu on March 1, 2021, Barcelona has vowed to fully cooperate with the investigators who are trying to get to the bottom of the case. The investigation is ongoing, and it remains to be seen how much of it is proven to be true.

For now, the members are eager to see how Laporta can rebuild the club and rise from the scandal.

Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu
Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu Photo: AFP / Josep LAGO