The president was singled out for criticism as Barca came out for their first match since the allegations that he manipulated social media use
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu was the subject of fervent protests at Camp Nou as a section of the club’s support called for the chief to step down.
Saturday saw the Catalans take to the pitch for the first time since the publishing of allegations that Bartomeu had hired a social media company to attack past and present Blaugrana favourites.
Bartomeu is already an unpopular figure among many Barcelona fans due to the club’s mixed fortunes so far in 2019-20, with the club forced to sack Ernesto Valverde in January after going out of the Supercopa to Atletico Madrid.
A suspect transfer policy that caused them to rush out and sign Leganes’ Martin Braithwaite as emergency forward cover also did little to convince his critics of coherent administration.
And while Barca were given few troubles on the pitch in a 5-0 thrashing of Eibar, in the stands it was a different matter.
White handkerchiefs, a traditional symbol in Spanish football of discontent, flew high across Camp Nou as kick-off approached.
The hosts walked out on the pitch to jeers and whistles, the likes of which had not been heard since Frank Rijkaard’s time as coach more than 12 years ago.
“Bartomeu, resign,” rang the chant from certain sectors of the stadium, although luckily for Bartomeu Lionel Messi was on hand to quell tensions.
The Argentine waltzed his way to a first-half hat-trick to secure victory, a result that puts Barca ahead of Real Madrid at the Liga summit prior to the Merengue’s visit to Levante later on Saturday.
Messi was one of the Barca players to speak out over the social media scandal, admitting that the situation was “weird”.
“It’s weird that something like this happens, but they also said that there would be evidence,” he told Mundo Deportivo after the news broke.
“We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We cannot say much and we will wait to see what happens with all of this. I really thought it was a strange subject.”
Barca are back in action on Tuesday, when they visit Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.
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