Wall Street Times

FC Barcelona might not be guilty of paying referees

Image Commercially Licensed from: Unsplash
Image Commercially Licensed from: Unsplash

FC Barcelona – Catalan soccer superpower FC Barcelona has previously been accused of wrongdoing by Spanish authorities.

Former club presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu were accused of accepting payments from the former referees committee vice president.

Nevertheless, new information in the sports scandal revealed that Spanish officials discovered no evidence of recurring payments.

What happened?

Cheating in athletics has always been condemned, regardless of country.

FC Barcelona has been accused of paying José María Enriquez Negreira, vice president of Spain’s officiating commission, to assist the team.

The following statement was made:

“Through presidents [Sandro] Rosell and [Josep] Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favoring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions.”

The former presidents & payments

Sandro Rosell served as FC Barcelona’s president from 2010 to 2014, when Josep Bartomeu took over.

Bartomeu led the sporting superpower until 2020, when he retired, and Joan Laporta took over in 2021.

According to Barcelona, the money was paid to Negreira’s company, Dasnil 96 SL.

These were presumably designed for “technical reporting on refereeing,” presuming that such services were available in the game.

Laporta, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, would be summoned to testify.

He, on the other hand, denied that Barcelona bribed officials.

“Barca have never bought referees nor influence,” said Laporta. “That was never the intention, and that has to be clear.”

“The facts contradict those that are trying to tell a different story.”

Meanwhile, Negreira made his own statement, stating:

“FC Barcelona considered that the team was harmed and other teams were favored. This is a personal hypothesis, nobody has told me directly.”

“My obligation was to give my opinion about the matches in terms of arbitration and the players. Technical advice.”

“What FC Barcelona wanted was to make sure that no decisions were made against the club, that everything was neutral.”

Read also: NCAA Reform: Krzyzewski’s Vocal Call for Accountability and Transparency

Investigations and charges

José Maria Enriquez Negreira resigned as vice president of Spain’s referees committee in 2018.

Despite the fact that he has been unemployed for some years, he was the sole object of a tax office investigation for payments from Barcelona totaling around €1.4 million ($1.51 million) between 2016 and 2018.

After investigating payments from 2014 to 2018, prosecutors charged Rossell and Bartomeu, as well as ex-FC Barcelona officials Oscar Gau and Albert Soler.

Yet, after a three-year delay, La Liga president Javier Tebas has concluded that FC Barcelona would face no sporting consequences.

But, he agreed to return to the matter after the legal processes were completed.

The Spanish Football Association and La League have handed over the relevant paperwork and information to UEFA.

As a result of the conclusion, individuals may decide to take action.

FIFA might even get involved.

The latest development

The FC Barcelona money-laundering investigation is moving forward.

According to EFE, the latest data indicate that the club’s €7.5 million ($8.1 million) payments to Negreira had no influence on on-field choices.

The claims include a failure to explain and verify millions of euros transferred to Negreira’s commercial interests, hinting that the club continued to pay for illegal services.

The claims are a huge victory for FC Barcelona after earlier this year’s charges turned the club on its head.

The club has kept mute about the topic, preferring to focus on external investigations and internal operations.

Joan Laporta planned to speak with the press after gathering all of the necessary evidence and information.

Laport claims that Barca will soon provide intelligence that is ready to strike and protect.

A former La Liga referee testified on Barcelona’s behalf, claiming that Negreira never requested him to influence decisions in the Catalan club’s favor.