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Ex-Barcelona chief Sandro Rosell held without bail

A Spanish judge has ordered prison without bail for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, according to reports in Spain.

Rosell, his wife Marta Pineda and three other people were arrested in Spain on Tuesday as part of a money-laundering investigation known as "Operation Rimet" in reference to former FIFA president Jules Rimet.

Authorities said the operation used information from the FBI following the U.S. case against high-level FIFA officials in 2015.

Rosell has denied any wrongdoing and stood in front of magistrate Carmen Lamela on Thursday morning in Madrid where he offered testimony for two hours on charges of money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.

El Pais reported that the 53-year-old will remain in prison until he is to face trial as bail was not granted since Rosell is considered a potential flight-risk and to avoid any possible destruction of evidence.

Rosell, a former Nike executive in Brazil, is accused of having laundered €15 million in Andorra for audiovisual rights to Brazil matches, before he took over at Barcelona. Several years ago, Rosell was formally accused by Brazilian authorities of using one of his companies to illegally benefit from a friendly between Brazil and Portugal in 2008. Rosell was cleared of any wrongdoing at the time.

Rosell resigned as Barcelona president at the start of 2014 after four years in charge after being accused of misappropriation of funds from the €57m signing of Neymar from Brazilian club Santos.

Rosell and Bartomeu's board had previously accused their predecessor at Barcelona, Joan Laporta and his board (16 members in total), of bankrupting Barcelona during their mandate. 

On Thursday, Laporta was exonerated by the court.

"This board doesn't deserve to continue because what they have done in during [the last] seven years to my board members has been a disgrace," he said. "It's been a huge lie and what's more it was premeditated. They acted with ill intentions, they lied and they dedicated themselves to intoxicating and manipulating."

Regarding the decision by the court to hold Rosell without bail, Laporta said; "I'm never happy when bad things happen to others, even if they've done damage to me. I feel bad when I think of their family and their children. And I also feel bad because it affects and tarnishes Barca's image. It had been coming for a while."

ESPN FC writer Sam Marsden contributed to this report.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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