Barcelona charged with corruption over payments to former referee head

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    Spanish side Barcelona have been indicted with corruption over payments carried out by the club and made to a former vice president of the refereeing committee of Spain, Maria Enriquez Negreira.

    The Prosecutor’s office said on Friday that Spanish prosecutors had registered a complaint against Barcelona and two of the club’s former presidents. 

    The charges are for a supposed payment to an organization owned by Maria Enriquez Negreira to alter match outcomes. 

    Barcelona reportedly paid over £6.4m from 2001 and 2008 to a company owned by Maria Enriquez Negreira, who was the head of the refereeing committee of Spain between 1993 and 2018.

    The individual Barcelona made payment to
    Maria Enriquez Negreira

    Prosecutors stated that under a confidential agreement and “in exchange for money”, Negreira aided Barcelona “in the decisions taken by referees in the games played by the club, as well as in the results of the competitions.” 

    Barcelona have claimed innocence of the charges leveled against them in a statement put out by the club last month, stating they had basically financially induced an external consultant that gave them  “technical reports related to professional refereeing”, they tagged it “a common practice among professional football clubs”.

    The accusation against the Spanish club focus on the money paid to referee Negreira in a specific period of time

    The accusation centres its attention on the £2.9m payment made by Barcelona from 2004 and 2018. 

    They also claimed the club, with the assistance of former presidents, Sandro Roswell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, came to a “confidential verbal agreement” with Negreira.

    Barcelona, Rosell, Bartomeu, Maria Enriquez Negreira and two other ex-officials of Barcelona have been accused of corruption in sports, inequitable administration and falsehood in important documents. 

    The findings was activated due to a tax inspection and according to El Pais newspaper, Negreira informed the tax agency of Spain that Barcelona’s aim with the payment was to have “impartial” referees in their matches. 

    Joan Laporta in February said that he would not give La Liga chief executive Javier Tebas “what he’d like by stepping down” as the club’s president.

    Javier Tebas after the news spread around like wildfire expressed that Joan Laporta should step down as president of the club if he couldn’t explain the payments made to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. 

    La Liga president, Javier Tebas
    Javier Tebas

    Laporta also claimed that Javier Tebas was strongly “obsessed” with Barcelona. 

    Following the revelations, Barcelona also bashed the timing of the revelation, saying that it “regrets that this information has appeared just while the team is enjoying its best moment of the season”.

    The President of Barcelona
    Joan Laporta

    La Liga have also hit the Spanish club with an embargo in the transfer market due to rising debts. 

    In spite of the steps taken by the club to improve its “sorry financial state”, their debt profile was still estimated in the excess of €1 billion. 

    Barcelona could also be barred from participating in the UEFA Champions League due to corruption charges. 

    Things keep getting messy for the Catalan based club off the pitch, but in the La Liga they are nine points ahead of rivals, Real Madrid at the summit of the La Liga with 62 points gathered while Real Madrid have accrued 53 points. 

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