Barcelona did not conduct smear campaign, investigation finds

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An audit into Barcelona's relationship with I3 Ventures has determined the club did not conduct a smear campaign against third parties.

Barca's agreement with PR company I3 ventures came under scrutiny in February following claims the firm was hired to clean up club president Josep Maria Bartomeu's image on social media and disparage current and former players critical of his regime.

Both Barca and I3 Ventures denied the allegations and a report following an audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that the club did not conduct "any defamatory campaigns" against any individual.

Summarising the report's findings on their official website, Barca wrote that "the contracting of various services related to monitoring and analysis of social networks on behalf of FC Barcelona did not include any defamatory campaigns directed at third parties."

PwC also found no evidence of corrupt financial conduct and determined that the price paid by Barca I3 Ventures' services was "within market range".

Responding to the report's findings, Barca said: "The Board of Directors instructs the Club's legal services to continue and, if necessary, bring the relevant legal action against those who have made false and unfounded accusations that have gravely damaged the institution's image and those who form part of it.

"The contents of this report, and its conclusions, will be also be brought forward in those proceedings launched against the Club based on alleged irregular behaviour that this document clarifies and denies."