Barcelona charged with corruption over payments to former referees’ official

Barcelona
Photo by Mario Cuadros

Indictments have been filed against Barcelona for suspected bribery in connection with payments made to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. He is the former vice president of Spain’s referees committee.

Between 2001 and 2018, Barcelona allegedly paid Negreira and a company he owns a total of 8.4 million euros. This was revealed last month.

Barça, former club executives, and Negreira were charged with “corruption,” “breach of trust,” and “false business papers” on Friday.

The club and its former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell are being sued by Barcelona public prosecutor’s office.

“FC Barcelona obtained and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. He then used his position as vice-president of the technical arbitral committee and in exchange for money, the latter performs actions tending to benefit FC Barcelona in decisions by referees,” according to the public prosecutor’s office.

League executive Javier Tebas proposed that incumbent president Joan Laporta should resign if he is unable to explain the payments.

Three days earlier, Laporta said that his team had “never bought referees,” although he is now being accused that

On Tuesday, he said that the Catalan club has never bought referees and has no future intentions to do so.

How did we get here?

Tax inspectors found the payments after investigating Negreira’s company, Dasnil 95, as reported by Ser Catalunya radio last month.

Barcelona reportedly paid the business a total of 1.4 million euros between 2016 and 2018. The 77-year-old Negreira collected over 7 million euros between 2001 and 2018.

Barcelona said it had recruited Dasnil 95, a “external technical consultant,” to compile video reports about professional referees in order to “supplement the data required by the coaching staff.”

In addition, it was said that the practice of contracting such studies was “common among professional teams.”

Eighteen of the twenty clubs in La Liga issued a joint statement expressing “grave worry” about the affair, and Laporta said that the club would launch an internal investigation into the payments.

Xavi, who played for Barcelona from 1998 to 2015 and won eight La Liga titles with them, said that he was ignorant of the payments and never believed his team had an unfair edge.

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