Skip to main content

Barcelona to investigate spying claims but admit $4 million spent on 'espionage'

March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2022 GMT (0422 HKT)
Barcelona spokesman Toni Freixa said the Catalan giants would be investigating the allegations it spied on its own players.
Barcelona spokesman Toni Freixa said the Catalan giants would be investigating the allegations it spied on its own players.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona confirms it spent $4 million on "espionage" from 2008-2010
  • Money went to two detective agencies in Spain
  • Barca launch internal investigation to determine "who was spied on and why"
  • Since coach Tito Vilanova underwent cancer treatment results have been indifferent

(CNN) -- Barcelona announced an internal investigation Tuesday after reports in Spain claimed that the club had commissioned detective agencies to spy on a number of their star players.

The Catalan giants confirmed on their official website that the club spent a total of 3.1 million euros ($4.04 million) on "espionage" between 2008 and 2010.

The money went to the now defunct Metodo 3 agency and another company called the Intelligence Bureau and Cyber Experience.

Barcelona said that "legal action will be taken to preserve the image of the club, the privacy of its employees and the legacy of the institution."

CNN FC: Has Barcelona's golden era ended?
Mendieta: Barca, Real out in front

Spokeman Toni Freixa added: "FC Barcelona wants to know 'who was spied on and why.' "

The alleged activities took place under the presidency of Joan Laporta, who was at the helm from 2003-2010, one of the most successful spells for the famous Spanish club.

Current president Sandro Rosell, a fierce critic of Laporta, succeeded him in June 2010, winning 60% of a vote among Barcelona club members.

The relationship between the two has remained cool since Rosell was elected, but on the pitch under former coach Pep Guardiola and his successor Tito Vilanova, the triumphs have continued.

Reports on the Spanish website El Confidencial, claimed Metodo 3 trailed defender Gerard Pique and his pop star wife Shakira in 2010 -- following them to a concert to log their activities.

Former stars Samuel Eto'o and Brazil's Ronaldinho were also believed to have been monitored in the past.

Blog: Will Guardiola return to Barcelona?

The allegations come as Barcelona has suffered a mini slump in form, twice losing to rivals Real Madrid and having to cope with the absence of Vilanova, who is battling cancer.

How did Allegri beat Barca?
FC Barcelona: More than social media

Rosell told the official website that the board had "absolute confidence" in Vilanova and were supporting him as he undergoes chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York.

"His recovery is our priority and I'd consider this season a success if he fully recovers from his illness. He will not leave even if it costs us every single title.

"He's encouraged, and he's eager to return."

A tentative return date of the end of March has been set by the Spanish league leaders, who are trailing AC Milan 2-0 from the away leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, another disappointing recent defeat.

"In the event that Barca defeat AC Milan, the manager could be on the bench for the away leg of the Champions League quarter finals," Rosell told gathered reporters.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT