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SBD Global/February 21, 2013/International Football

Man City CEO Soriano Accused Of Authorizing Payments For Spying While At Barcelona

Man City CEO Ferran Soriano is accused of spying on colleagues while at Barcelona.
Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano has become "embroiled in allegations that he authorised payments for 'spying' on internal emails" during his five-year spell as financial VP of Barcelona, according to Marc Ogden of the London TELEGRAPH. Prosecutors in Catalonia have alleged that Soriano helped former Barcelona President Joan Laporta "illegally monitor communications, with certain key words flagging up emails of interest to the regime." The Catalonia Public Prosecutor’s Office said that Soriano and former Barcelona Managing Dir Joan Oliver are being investigated for "criminal liability." As of Tuesday night, Man City was "unaware of any contact between the investigators and Soriano, who is believed to be relaxed about developments in Spain." Senior figures at Man City declined to comment about the allegations against Soriano. However, there is a "growing sense that he may be the victim of a dirty-tricks campaign emanating from Barcelona." Man City aimed "to exploit his success" at the Nou Camp, and that of Sporting Dir Txiki Begiristain "in order to accelerate City’s growth on and off the pitch." The increasing rivalry between the clubs has led to claims in Barcelona that Man City has "tried to lure" Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodríguez away from the Nou Camp. Man City has "strenuously denied" these suggestions (TELEGRAPH, 2/20).

EYE OF THE HURRICANE: Also in London, Herbert & Jenson reported under Spanish law, "virtually anyone can trigger an investigation by lodging a complaint against the administrators of a football club." Catalonia's senior prosecutor has found that when Soriano was a VP of the club he ordered cyber intelligence company Cybex Experience to "embed a device in the server of the club's internal computer, enabling all internal emails containing any one of 100 keywords to be monitored." There have also been reports that Man City is trying to "gazump Barcelona for the services of Neymar." The EPL champion is monitoring his situation, like most clubs who are capable of signing him, but has accepted that the 21-year-old "will become a Barcelona player this summer" (INDEPENDENT, 2/20). In Barcelona, Francesc Perearnau wrote Soriano "is in the eye of the hurricane of a major political operation against political spying." There are indications the spying was aimed at particular individuals in the Barcelona circles, including current club President Sandro Rosell (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 2/20). MARCA reported Oliver acknowledged that the club monitored the emails of all the employees and upper management of the club because there were "information leaks." Oliver also admitted it was "an error" (MARCA, 2/18).
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