Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Lionel Messi called “a sewer rat” by former Barcelona chief in leaked WhatsApp messages

Lionel Messi was branded a “hormonal dwarf” and “sewer rat” in leaked WhatsApp messages sent by former Barcelona directors, according to reports.

The messages, sent in January 2021 were leaked to El Periodico and also contain insults directed at Gerard Pique and current president Joan Laporta, who was re-elected for a second tenure two months after the exchanges.

They were sent in a group containing ex-president Joan Bartomeu, and the insults directed at Messi were made on the day that details of his contract at the club were published by Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

El Periodico claimed that “hormonal dwarf” and “sewer rat” messages were sent by Roman Gomez Ponti, the club’s head of legal services in Bartomeu’s time in charge.

Other members in the group, it is reported, included board members and senior officials Oscar Grau, Jordi Moix, Oriol Tomas, David Bellver, Pancho Schroder and Javier Sobrino.

All left their executive roles at Camp Nou when Bartomeu resigned in late 2020. He was facing a vote of no confidence at the time. Gomez Ponti’s message in relation to Messi was directed towards Bartomeu and contained a number of severe and unproven allegations.

It read: “Barto, really, you can’t be such a good person with this sewer rat. The club has given him everything and he has dedicated himself to marking a dictatorship of signings, transfers, renewals, sponsorships just for him, etc.”

Ponti continued by branding Messi a “pesetero”, meaning a money-grabber, while questioning the decision to renew the contracts of Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and a renewal fee to Ansu Fati, which went to his agent and Messi’s brother Rodrigo.

The message continued: “Above all the accumulation of blackmail and rudeness that the club and those of us who work [for it] have suffered from this hormonal dwarf who owes Barca his life… ah! But when things go wrong [Covid-19] you receive the mythical WhatsApp [message]: ‘President, lower the salaries of others, but don’t touch Luis [Suarez] and me.'”

In a later message Bartomeu says: “Many times we have listened to Leo, not always, but many times, and this contract without a pandemic was totally acceptable.” He went on to say that it represented 15% of the club’s entire budget and that “it was correct taking into account everything that he generates.”

Oriol Tomas, a former vice president, later claims that Laporta, who at the time was running for re-election, was behind the leak of Messi’s contract details to El Mundo.

Messi left Barca for PSG in the summer of 2021 with Laporta blaming the previous board for his exit, complaining that the club’s financial position was a result of the “calamitous and disastrous situation” he inherited.

In other messages published by El Periodico, Pique was called “a great son of a b****” by Gomez Ponti for comments he made criticising the club after Bayern thrashed them 8-2 in the UEFA Champions League.

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