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Messi votes in Barcelona presidential elections

Barcelona, Mar 7 (efe-epa).- Lionel Messi on Sunday cast his ballot in Barcelona’s presidential elections, the first to be held mid-season in decades.

Club members are electing a successor for Josep Maria Bartomeu, who stepped down in October under intense pressure from fans and players after he fell out with club captain Messi.

The Argentine star, who will be a free agent on 30 June if he does not extend his Barcelona contract, voted at the Camp Nou, accompanied by his son Thiago.

The elections were initially scheduled for 24 January, but were delayed due to coronavirus restrictions, which have allowed people to vote by email for the first time.

The poll centers have been spread across Catalonia and Andorra, instead of just the Camp Nou.

Voters will choose between three candidates; former president Joan Laporta, Víctor Font and Toni Freixa. The winner is expected to be announced before midnight.

The elections come as Bartomeu and his right hand, Jaume Masferrer are being investigated over the so-called “BarçaGate” corruption probe.

The Mossos d’Esquadra also detained the current chief executive officer, Oscar Grau, after raiding the offices at Barcelona’s stadium, Camp Nou, last Monday morning

Bartomeu and Masferrer were released a day after being arrested on charges of malpractice during their administration and corruption in business.

The investigation was opened last year after Bartomeu and other leading figures at the LaLiga giants were accused by club members of paying a company to wage a social media smear campaign against senior players and potential presidential candidates who would have stood against Bartomeu in his reelection bid.

Bartomeu denied the accusations last February. He resigned in October under increasing pressure from players and fans of the club after he had publicly fallen out with Messi. EFE-EPA

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