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Police raid FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, ex-President, three others arrested

Spanish police raided the headquarters of F.C. Barcelona, seizing evidence and detaining four people.

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Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s regional police force has carried out a search on Monday morning on all the offices of the Spanish giants, FC Barcelona and reportedly arrested four people in the process.

The raid carried out by the Police was in search of evidence in relation to the “Barcagate” social media scandal that happened in February, where the Catalan giants allegedly paid third party companies to produce disparaging contents about some people including former players that are opposed and critical of former president, Bartomeu’s administration. A similar raid was also carried out in the club last year June.

The companies allegedly hired by the Spanish giants include I3 Ventures SL, NSG Social Science Ventures SL, Tantra Soft SA, Digital Side SA, Big Data Solutions SA and Futuric SA. There were allegations made that I3 Ventures SL were behind fake social media accounts despising as Barcelona fans that produced disparaging contents about the likes of Victor Font, the club’s presidential candidate. It also attacked high profile players like Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique and also former players like Xavi, Guardiola, etc.

According to reports, those arrested were former Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu; the club’s chief executive, Oscar Grau; Roman Gomez Ponti, the head of legal services and Jaume Masferrer, an adviser to Bartomeu. The decision to arrest them was not the court’s decision. The arrests were made by the exclusive decision of the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona which is in charge of the case only ordered for a search.

The Catalan giants have been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and this further stains the club’s image.

The raid comes less than a week before the club’s presidential elections are to be held which is coming up on March 7. Three candidates – Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freia – are on the final ballot for the crucial vote.

In a statement, Barcelona has offered to give their full collaboration regarding the ongoing investigations.

The club stated: “Regarding the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning at the Camp Nou offices by order of the Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona, which is in charge of the case relating to the contacting of monitoring services on social networks, FC Barcelona have offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation.

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“The information and documentation requested by the judicial police force relate strictly to the facts relative to this case.

“FC Barcelona express its utmost respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.”

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Sports

How we source funds to develop handball in Nigeria – Handball Federation

The Handball Federation of Nigeria discusses sponsorships, strides and progress made.

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Handball is one of the lesser-known sports in Nigeria, but that doesn’t mean it’s not making strides. Cosmos Chukwuemeka, the media assistant to the President of the Handball Federation of Nigeria, Samuel Ocheho, spoke to Ademola Kadiri in a revealing interview about several issues.

The excerpts are below:

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Cosmos Chukwuemeka and I am the media assistant to the president of the Nigerian Handball Federation. I am also a broadcast journalist with LASU Radio where I head the Sports Unit.

We normally don’t hear a lot about the Handball Federation. What could be responsible for this?

Basically, that has to do with the sporting culture of the country. Football is the king of all sports. Everybody loves football. That has to do with the systemic disparity that keeps football ahead of other sports.

The disparity is like the sun and moon; that’s how far they are from each other. It also has to do with structure, talents and inadequacy of facilities; funding is also a big elephant in the room. Football gets 80% of the chunk while the other federations share the remaining 20%.

It’s not only about publicity. Funding also fuels publicity. All of these are the big issues. Policy defects have affected sports, in general. It is not because other sports are not trying, it is because of the defective policy and the challenges that come with it. It is basically systemic.

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How does the Federation source for funds?

When the present president came on board, the sport was almost in comatose. They were not attending competitions and grassroots competitions were not being organized. In the 80s, Nigeria used to be the king of handball, but in the 90s, everything fell like a pack of cards because of a whole lot of issues, mainly maladministration.

But then, Samuel Ocheho came in. He’s someone that played the sport, and as a corporate person, he understood how to drive the sport. The first thing he did was to secure the sponsorship for the league, and that was how Prudent Energy came on board. Prudent Energy and Services Limited is an energy company that sponsors the league for about 4 years now. The first phase of the league will come up in May while the second phase comes up in October.

He also ensured that there is level playing ground for individuals that want to put in their money to develop handball. Since 2018, since he became president, there have been many national and international competitions. Apart from the fact that he puts in his own money, which shows his passion, he and the Board have been able to bring a lot of attraction to the sport, so much that handball can now compete with basketball for relevance.

Do the sponsors get value for money to expand the scope of their sponsorship?

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Prudent Energy has expanded the scope of its sponsorship twice in 4 years. They are getting the dividends of their investment in the league. When they started in 2018, they got bigger and bigger. Like most energy companies, people might not know about them. They came in and a lot of people started knowing about them and started understanding what they really do.

They came into the league, and it was a big gain for handball to be able to get Prudent Energy, and the dividends for them has been massive. They have leveraged it and everyone now knows that the National Premier Handball League is sponsored by them.

At the point of the lockdown last season caused by Covid-19, they gave out palliatives to all the teams in the league, the players, and even the referees. If they were not getting Return on Investment, they wouldn’t do that at all.

What will you recommend for improving the perception of handball in Nigeria?

It’s a world of technology, and we are trying our best in that regard. We are on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We churn out content every other time, giving updates about the league, and other competitions we participate in. We stream matches live, so we are trying our best to improve the perception and publicity. We also have some media partners that have been with us from day 1.

They help in propagating the good work that the Handball Federation of Nigeria is doing for the growth and development of the sport in the country. Interviews like this also help, but ultimately, what we seek is for handball to go back to the grassroots, which is the fastest possible way to grow the sport.

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Sports

Manchester City announces £192m net loss for 2019/20 fiscal year

The club’s operating expenses was £641.2m, an £80.9m increase compared to £560.3m spent in the previous year.

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English top-flight club, Manchester City Football Club has announced its annual report for 2019/20 which covers an unusual season that was paused between March and June due to the ongoing global pandemic and then completed in the 2020/21 fiscal year.

The Premier League current leaders posted a total revenue of £478.4m, a loss of 11% compared to £565.2m made at the same period in the previous year. Revenue delays were the major cause of the reduction in revenue. A quarter of the Premier League matches and the latter stages of the UCL and FA cup including the revenues generated from player sales were delayed by the global pandemic and do not appear in the 2019/20 account. Player sales include Leroy Sane’s transfer to Bayern Munich for around €45m.

READ: Football: Lyon lost €36.5 million in the 2019/20 financial year

CEO Ferran Soriano said: “Clearly, the 2019-20 accounts in isolation are not the best representation of the reality of the season with delayed player trading and numerous games being played after 30th June 2020, the revenues from which will be accounted in the 2020-21 period. A better financial picture of the COVID years will be provided at the end of the 2020-21 season, when the two seasons are combined and normalised.”

The club’s operating expenses was £641.2m, an £80.9m increase compared to £560.3m spent in the previous year because the club continued to meet its full financial commitments, in addition to providing support to staff and the local community, including the significant support for fans, local schools and services and as a provider of valuable infrastructure for the NHS as it battled the pandemic.

Broadcasting revenues were reduced following rebates due to delays to the 2019/20 domestic football season and changes to broadcasting schedules. Broadcasting revenues for the year ended 30 June, 2020 have been reduced to reflect Premier League and UEFA rebates due to broadcasters.

READ: Arsenal becomes first premier league club to commit to UN Sports for Climate Action Framework

What you need to know

The pandemic led to a net loss of £126.0m for the 2019/20 fiscal year. The club said the following in a statement:

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“However, the club expects to immediately return to profitability in 2020-21, as a result of a less COVID impacted season and deferred 2019-20 revenues. The likely normalised losses for each of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons will therefore be less than £60m per year.”

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “[we have] a business that is fundamentally strong, with committed shareholders and with significant assets, built carefully over a decade and upon more than a century of history.”

Highlighting “income streams [that] have been deliberately shifted and diversified,” the Chairman continues, “our long-term approach has meant that we are now not wholly dependent on income streams that have been most vulnerable to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.”

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