Barcelona ends contract with company accused of fake posts

The Associated Press

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Barcelona has ended its contract with a company that made negative comments on social media about people within the club.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said Tuesday the decision was made after the club found out that one of its service providers used an account to make ''inadequate'' comments about people in the club. He did not name the company nor give any detail about the comments.

Bartomeu reiterated the club's denial of accusations it hired a company to make negative comments about its own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior club officials.

The Cadena Ser radio network said Monday a company used fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures and some of Barcelona's players when they expressed views that went against the club. Cadena Ser said some of the figures included star players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique as well as former coach Pep Guardiola.

Bartomeu said other companies will continue to monitor social media on behalf of the club.

''It's the responsibility of the club to know what is said on social media around the world,'' he said. ''But the club has never contracted services to discredit anyone, and we will do whatever is needed to defend ourselves from such accusations.''

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