Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell. Photo: Reuters/Alberto Gea

BARCELONA – Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell was arrested on Tuesday in a money laundering operation related to image rights in the Brazilian national football team, a police spokesman told AFP.

The operation was mainly carried out in the north-eastern region of Catalonia and for the moment "there are four or five detainees, including the former president of Barça, Sandro Rosell, and his wife," the police spokesman said.

The investigation focuses on "money laundering in companies linked to the image rights of the Brazilian football team," police added.

Businessman Rosell, 53, was manager of sporting goods giants Nike in Brazil and oversaw the contract for the national team to wear the US brand, before taking over as president of Barcelona in 2010.

Rosell resigned as Barcelona president in 2014 after being charged over alleged tax fraud relating to the club's signing of Brazil striker Neymar from Santos. He was later cleared of all charges in connection with the case following an agreement with prosecutors.

Rosell will nevertheless be tried for fraud and corruption relating to a parallel complaint filed by Brazilian investment company DIS, which owned 40 percent of Neymar's sporting rights at the time of his transfer.

DIS claim it was cheated out of its real share because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona, Santos and the Neymar family.