BARCELONA boss Ronald Koeman has admitted that he was ‘devastated’ by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s arrest.
The disgraced ex-chief, as well as three others, were detained on Tuesday night after being arrested as part of a corruption investigation.
Josep Maria Bartomeu appointed Ronald Koeman last AugustCredit: AFP or licensors
Barcelona’s offices were raided by police and four people were arrestedCredit: EPA
The accusations, which Bartomeu denied last February, included paying 13 Ventures around £170,000 to target the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Xavi and Pep Guardiola in an online smear campaign.
Speaking today ahead of Barca’s Copa del Rey clash with Sevilla on Wednesday night, Koeman revealed that he ‘feels bad’ for his former boss, who resigned last October ahead of a vote of no confidence.
He said: “When I heard the news I was devastated because I know Bartomeu and [CEO Oscar] Grau well.
“I feel bad for them, I had good moments with them in a short space of time and Bartomeu has always been an exceptional person to me.
“It’s not good for the image of the club but we have to wait and see what happens.
“I wasn’t here then so I can’t talk about it, we just have to focus on our job and in turning the tie around tomorrow.”
Koeman, 57, arrived at a club in turmoil last August, after leaving his role with the Netherlands national team.
But he has insisted that he has no regrets over making the move.
Barcelona chiefs have been under investigation for the last yearCredit: AFP or licensors
Police seized evidence on MondayCredit: AFP or licensors
Bartomeu stepped down as club president in OctoberCredit: EPA
He continued: “You never know what’s going to happen in the future. When Barca called me I was convinced I had to take the job.
“I knew it was a difficult moment, the club was losing money and had to make changes to the squad and put its faith in young players but I have tried to do my best and what I felt was right.
“Life is full of ups and downs and opportunities and problems and you have to try and resolve them.”
On Monday, police seized evidence and arrested four individuals, with further arrests not ruled out according to Catalan radio station Cadena SER.
Bartomeu was reportedly detained along with former advisor Jaume Masferrer – fired by the club in October for his role in the scandal – chief executive Oscar Grau, and legal head Roma Gomez Ponti.
Police were pictured raiding the club offices, namely the legal, financial and compliance departments.
It’s a disgrace the club actually spent money to criticise us
Speaking last year, Messi confessed to finding the situation ‘strange’ while Pique slammed the club’s actions.
He said in October: “It’s a disgrace the club actually spent money to criticise us.
“It’s an atrocity as a Barcelona player to see my club spending money – money they’re now asking for from us – to criticise not just external people with a previous relationship to the club, but players still here.”
Barcelona host Sevilla on Wednesday, hoping to overturn their 2-0 first-leg deficit in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were among those reportedly targeted by the smear campaignCredit: Getty Images – Getty
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