Real Madrid have threatened legal action following a claim made on Catalan radio that Blancos president Florentino Perez was part of a high-ranking conspiracy pressing for Barcelona to be punished for signing Neymar last summer.
Barca socio Jordi Cases initiated the court proceedings against Barca when he submitted an official complaint, after being ignored when he first approached then Barca president Sandro Rosell and his fellow directors looking for details of the deal, which has seen the player’s father receive a large chunk of the 86 million euros the Catalan club has now admitted to paying.
However, during a RAC1 interview on Monday night with Barca institutional vice-president Carles Vilarrubi, Catalan journalist Xavi Bosch put forward a theory that Perez had teamed up with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and current Minister of Justice Alberto Ruiz Gallardon to pressure the Madrid court to investigate the transfer.
Vilarrubi responded: "I believe that the vice-president of institutional relations of Barca cannot respond to that question on a radio programme."
The idea of interference from Madrid has, however, been fed by comments by Barca pundits and figures, including Rosell’s replacement, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who told RAC1 that “someone in [the city of] Madrid has made this fly very high” and later spoke to Mundo Deportivo about “getting to the bottom” of leaks about the transfer to the media.
Real Madrid have now strongly denied any involvement in the furore, which led to Rosell’s resignation last week, and demanded an apology from the journalist responsible.
A statement on the club’s official website read: “Before the serious declarations made last night on RAC 1 by the journalist Xavi Bosch, the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, wishes to declare the following:
“1. The statement that tries to absurdly involve the president of Real Madrid in the judicial proceedings initiated by a complaint made by an FC Barcelona socio against then president Sandro Rosell is completely false.
“2. The president of Real Madrid demands that the journalist who made these false declarations makes a rectification on the same media of communication in a clear and immediate manner.
“3. If this rectification does not take place, the president of Real Madrid will take legal action against the journalist, defending his right to honour, privacy and his good image. To do this, the contents of the allegations made have already been referred to lawyers.”
Many around the Camp Nou -- including Bartomeu -- have been keen this week to recall the controversy in the 1950s when alleged political pressure by the Franco regime ruling the country meant that Argentine player Alfredo Di Stefano joined Madrid and not Barcelona, with whom he had also signed a contract.
Villarubi suggested in the RAC1 interview that similar political interference might have taken place again over 60 years later.
“Someday it will all be known -- the same as the truth about Di Stefano,” he said, without going into any details.