Eto’o, Ronaldinho, Deco and Pique all stalked by private eyes
Spanish weekly Interviu has sent shockwaves through La Liga today by alleging former Barcelona president Joan Laporta paid a gang of private detectives to go out and spy on his players and staff as they went about their daily lives.
According to the magazine, ex-Barca stars Deco, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o were all regularly tailed out-of-hours, whenever suspected of breaching the club’s code of conduct.
At one point an unwitting Gerard Pique was put on 24-hour, round-the-clock surveillance by Laporta’s men.
The aforementioned trio were all thought to have indeed broken club rules, although, unsurprisingly, Laporta was unable to take direct action due to dubious nature of his intelligence gathering.
However, his spies are said to have been active just prior to Pep Guardiola taking over from outgoing manager Frank Rijkaard. The first players Guardiola announced were up for the chop? Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto’o.
The family of current president (and Laporta nemesis) Sandro Rosell have also been caught up in the scandal.
Rosell’s wife went to the police after being followed while taking their children to school. A subsequent investigation found the tail was a freelancer for a security company regularly contracted by Laporta while he was at Barcelona.
Accounts have reportedly been uncovered which show €600,000 was paid to security firm Intelligence Bureau to carry out a number of tasks for the club – including monitoring the personal emails of Rijkaard and the rest of the backroom staff.
Amazingly, the spy scandal is just light snowfall in the huge avalanche of scandal about land on top of Laporta.
There are still yet rumours of the club’s money being frittered away on private holidays and other perks, leaving a €70m hole in the accounts that was hastily covered up before the hand over to Rosell.
Stay tuned folks, this one looks like a shoo-in for Football Scandal of the Year. (Sorry Wayne.)