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It looks like the dark clouds of scandal haven’t departed from the Camp Nou. FC Barcelona has already been involved in a lot of controversies and the latest revelation isn’t helping their case. As per a leaked report, former Catalan stars Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique allegedly held negotiations with UEFA in order to ‘divert’ funds to compensate for their salary losses caused because of COVID-19. 

The shocking disclosure comes via the columns of the Spanish website, The Objective, which claims to have exclusively obtained the messages and audio recordings exchanged between both former teammates with the current UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Luis Rubiales. The website not only has posted the WhatsApp screenshots but there’s also an audio of the call posted on YouTube.

The first discussion on this issue took place on April 2, 2020. Rubiales initiated a call to Pique. During that subsequent conversation, the former defender, with Messi’s consent, conveyed the Argentine star’s concerns to Rubiales regarding the significant reduction in his substantial salary due to the pandemic. The very same day after having an hour-long conversation with Pique, Rubiales contacted Ceferin, suggesting the idea of ‘using UEFA funds’ to offset the players’ financial losses. 

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Rubiales underscores Messi’s concern about keeping the negotiations ‘confidential,‘ saying that, ‘if people find out, they are going to kill us,’ affecting the player’s reputation. However, Ceferin assured the former Spanish president that ‘not even his dog will find out.’ The ex-RFEF chief then insisted to the UEFA president how funds could be transferred in favor of Messi and other affected stars, while they continue giving funds to smaller teams. 

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More details on the latest scandal involving Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique 

Following this conversation, Rubiales guarantees Gerard Pique that both federations are ready to help him and Lionel Messi. The messages reveal that Rubiales, Messi, and Pique even had a call together. Interestingly, on April 4, 2020, two days after their phone call, the former RFEF president got a green light from Ceferin about the operation and insisted on telling the news to La Pulga at the ‘right time.’ This was because of Messi’s fear regarding the information going public that the soccer’s apex authorities were looking up for star players. 

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Notably, even if the issue had come to light, they had a plan in defense that the diversion of these funds would also benefit the lower-earning players as well. Ironically, on April 6, Rubiales publically presented his financial proposal to Caferin. It suggested that 4% of the broadcasting rights from all UEFA matches, which were previously allocated in a specific manner among the national associations, be restructured so that 50% could be used to compensate players who had their salaries reduced due to the pandemic. 

Either way, it is quite a startling disclosure regarding the former Barcelona stars. So far, there is no comment from either of the names involved. Yet, it remains to be seen if Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi, alongside Aleksander Ceferin and Luis Rubiales, are summoned for investigation. If found guilty, then they might have to face huge repercussions.