Both Eric Abidal and Barcelona have denied reports that the club bought a black market liver for the defender’s transplant six years ago.
According to reports, Spanish authorities have intercepted and recorded phone conversations that implicate former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, who is currently in Spanish prison for money laundering, as having purchased a black market liver for Abidal’s operation.
Abidal, 38, is now the technical secretary for Barcelona. He had a transplant back in 2012 to remove a cancerous tumor.
“I feel obligated to communicate my annoyance and sadness in relation to today’s news about my alleged illegal liver transplant,” Abidal wrote in a statement released on Twitter. “Out of respect for my family, the medical team, and everyone who has undergone a similar situation, I would like to sincerely apologize if at any point there has been doubts about the unsoundness of the news published today. My cousin Gerard donated his liver to save my life and for this I am truly grateful to him. Existing procedures and protocols were followed at all times and all the medical documentation that proves so is available.”
The club also released a statement to say they “roundly deny any irregularity in the matter.” “The club are saddened by the lack of rigor in the spreading of such information about such a sensitive issue,” Barcelona said.
The Catalan Department of Justice was able to confirm via a spokesman that they had investigated Rosell for the “alleged illegal purchase of an organ” earlier this year, but the investigation has since been closed and no charges were filed.
After the surgery, Abidal returned to Barcelona in April of 2013 before completing a transfer to French club Monaco later that summer. Rosell is set to stand trial for his money laundering charges related to television rights for Brazil matches.