Madrid: FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes the club's identification with the Catalan region is a major factor in imputing tax fraud charges against him over signing Brazilian striker Neymar.
Bartomeu became the club president just over a year ago after former chief Sandro Rosell was forced to resign because of the irregularities in signing Neymar, reports Xinhua.
Bartomeu, who was Rosell's vice president, was not implicated at that time. But Monday, Judge Pablo Ruz, who is currently handling several major corruption scandals in Spain, decided to also impute him for tax fraud.
Bartomeu insisted that part of the season his club was now under the spotlight was due to the influence of a jealous arch-rivals Real Madrid from the country's capital Madrid, and also Barcelona's implication in the pro-Catalan independence movement.
"Neymar had two offers, one from Madrid and one from Barcelona. Neymar was playing well a year ago and out comes the complaint. Maybe somebody didn't like it. Now he's playing well again and there's another judicial action," said Bartomeu.
The Barcelona president stopped short of directly accusing Real Madrid, but made his opinions very clear over the matter.
"I don't want to go that far, but Neymar's father said Madrid were behind it and that Neymar's going to Barcelona didn't go down well. Maybe we signed Neymar and that provoked the actions of someone who didn't want him to go to Barcelona," he said.
The latest accusations against Bartomeu and the club surfaces as Barcelona are in their best form of the season with Neymar, who has scored over 20 goals, also enjoying his best spell since arriving in 2013.
"Maybe it's just coincidence that when we start to win prosecutors act within 24 hours. It's not normal," said Bartomeu, who went as far as implying the Spanish state had a hand in the matter.
"There are State institutions that don't like what's happening in Barcelona. There's a political element to this," he said, before insisting his club would "show we have done things correctly."