Former Barcelona defender Éric Abidal has denied that his old club president bought him an illegal liver for a transplant he had in 2012, after a report from the Spanish paper El Confidencial cited recorded conversations submitted in court implying that this was the case.
“I feel obliged to communicate my annoyance and sadness in relation to today’s news about my alleged illegal liver transplant,” Abidal, who is now Barcelona’s technical secretary, wrote in a statement. Abidal then reiterated the original story about his transplant, which occurred when a tumor was found in his liver, saying that his cousin donated the organ.
The story published by El Confidencial, however, is intriguing to say the least. In phone conversations recorded by Spanish authorities during their investigation of ex-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell for money laundering, Rosell implies multiple times that he bought the liver for Abidal illegally, and the cousin was simply a cover story. In one of the conversations, an unknown man on the other end of the line who is criticizing Abidal says, “We bought an illegal liver for this guy,” to which Rosell responds with, “Ummm.” The other man then says, “And we sold that it was from the cousin,” to which Rosell says “yes” three times.
This conversation was serious enough that authorities opened a separate investigation into the illegal liver purchase, and heard three other conversations (possibly with the same man) that featured incriminating remarks. According to the BBC, however, the investigation of Rosell for the purchase of the organ has been closed without charge, though the ex-Barcelona president is currently in custody and will stand trial on money laundering charges.