Few hours after El Periódico brought the news that Barcelona had been spying on four of the club's vice-presidents (read more here), Barcelona called an emergency press conference at 12:15 pm that same Thursday 24 september.
While Barcelona president Joan Laporta was - in the company of three of the four vice-presidents involved (Ferrer, Yuste and Franquesa) - inaugurating a statue of former Barcelona player László Kubala, Barcelona chief executive Joan Oliver faced the press alone and gave his version of the events:
"I can confirm that we have carried out an investigation but I want to make clear that the report that was published today refers to spying, while we were in fact protecting and defending those people. When somebody is the target of a security audit and it's he who receives the result - which is what happened here - that's not espionage. You can call it whatever you want, just do not use the word 'spying'.
Of course we are not happy that this information has been published but we don't have any problems to give further explanations. Although we would prefer to be able to work with more discretion, we are aware that few things in this club are not publicly known.
Everything started in March of this year when vice-president Joan Franquesa informed the club that he thought he was being investigated and followed. The police was not informed because there were only indications and no real proof. He thought this had to do with his position as vice-president of the club and asked us to verify the situation and his security.
Taking into account previous events related to security issues at the club - the death threats to the president, the theft of his computer, the theft of a data base and other incidents that we will not reveal - we decided to act. We considered this to be a reasonable request and, as security is an important issue for the club, we also thought it made sense to extend this to other vice-presidents, namely misters Joan Boix, Jaume Ferrer and Rafael Yuste. That's when these security audits were commissioned.
I want to point out that this happened shortly after first vice-president Alfons Godall had announced that he had no intention of being a candidate in the next elections, so there you had a situation in which the other four vice-presidents came more into the limelight because people were starting to discuss which one of them could become the continuity candidate. So yes, there was an electoral element to it as they played a bigger role. In short, all of them gained some public notoriety and that made them vulnerable. I also want to mention that current director Xavier Sala i Martín was at that time not yet a member of the board.
The club then contacted Método 3, a firm with a good reputation with whom we normally work, to carry out the audits. As is usual in security matters, this all happened with discretion so things could be done efficiently. At the beginning of April, the results of the security audit were known and, after being shared with them, they are now in the possession of the four vice-presidents. I think the fact that nobody did anything after they were informed about the audits is sufficient proof that nothing irregular happened.
A security audit consists of verifying information about those people that is available in public records and places, as well as making inquiries about them regarding certain areas of relevance. What is also part of it is trying to find out whether this person is being subjected to illegal activities of others. This is for example a very common practice in the United States.
A security audit can also be defined by what it is not and it's important to make this clear. It is not and does not contain any type of following of people or any activity related to these people's communications, meaning for example that telephone conversations or e-mails are not checked.
The cost of this audit was 56 000 euros, which is a little more than 1% of the club's security budget, which is four million euros. I want to make clear here that there are two types of security the club is dealing with: we have the security of people and brands, and then there's the security of the facilities. It's a very complex situation that asks for a lot of efforts. I can on the other hand guarantee you that this club never has been investigating people, so it is excluded that we have been following former vice-president Sandro Rosell.
President Laporta was not behind all this. Like all the vice-presidents, he was informed about the results once we got them. He didn't know about it before because that's the way we work here. We are doing things and depending on the results, the president is informed. Every day thousands of decisions are being made and people are informed from the moment this is relevant for them. I don't know if this is good or bad but it's our policy. The president takes care of the strategic matters, not the day-to-day activities.
Six months have now passed since the events took place and I insist that this was a normal procedure within the club's security measures. I cannot confirm or deny that similar audits were carried out before but it was just another measure without any special importance. Another thing is that this security audit was undertaken with the most strict respect for the law. It's a standard measure and no rules have been violated.
I never thought about resigning. Not back then and not after things have become public now. I am here because of a decision of the board and I don't think people have lost their trust in me. This happened half a year ago and nobody asked me anything. But if they would now ask me to leave, I would go with the great satisfaction of having worked at this club."
this is the second of ten parts on the case. the third part will cover some further revelations. you can read the whole series here.
Read the first part of this series:
Barçagate (1) - El Periodico breaks the news