Barcelona Fumes, Reacts to Alleged Referee Bribery Scandal

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Barcelona have reacted to accusations of bribing a renowned Spanish referee to tilt and influence the outcome of games.

Barcelona

Reports spreading like wildfire in Spanish media emerged on Wednesday that the La Liga title hopefuls bribed a renowned and former Spanish referee Jose Maria Enriquez with over £1m.

The payment to Jose Mario Enriquez is said to have been made across three seasons, sparking allegations the Catalan club was trying to induce the Spanish football veteran.

Jose Maria Enriquez served as the vice president of La Liga referees, and the alleged payments will be a major upset in Spanish football if proven as a bribe.

Barcelona, who are currently at top of the La Liga, have not denied making payments to Jose Maria, but have insisted they did not intend to bribe him.

According to a report
by Cadena SER radio program Que t’hi jugues, Maria Enriquez Negreira has a company, DASNIL 95, through which the Catalan club made a payment of €1.4m.

The payments, as the report claims, were made during the reign and tenure of former Barcelona President Josep Bartomeu.

Jose Maria is said to have been in active officiating when the payment was made before he emerged as the Vice President of the La Liga referees association after calling time on his officiating career.

Details of the payment showed the Catalans spread the payment into three successive years in 2016, 2017, and then 2018.

In 2016, Jose Maria reportedly received £473,340. In 2017, he received £481,358, and finally, he bagged £282,915 in 2018.

All the payments were reportedly not made to his personal account, but to an account linked to his company DASNIL 95.

Claims of alleged wrongdoing by Barcelona surfaced following the payments, with some reports alleging Barcelona had attempted to twist refereeing decisions.

Spanish Tax Agency, who are currently investigating DASNIL 95, claims Barcelona had wanted to make sure no refereeing decision was made against the club, and that everything was neutral. Spain Prosecutors have also confirmed that the payment was made.

Barcelona Referee Scandal: Joao Mario Reacts

After the allegations of wrongdoing emerged, Jose Maria Enriquez has not discountenance the alleged payments but insisted Barcelona have made the payment, seeking consultancy services.

Barcelona
Jose Mario

He said the Catalan club had asked him to recommend ways their players should behave towards different referees to avoid being booked or penalized.

He added the club have not been offered any preferential treatment due to the said payment.

Barcelona Reacts

Barcelona were quick to issue an official statement on the club’s website, debunking the claims of alleged wrongdoing.

The club maintained the payments made to Jose Mario were part of the club’s bid to outsource the need for a professional and technical guidance on players’ behavior and professional refereeing to help the team’s coaches, which is not a strange practice in football.

The club threatens to sue elements trying to bring the club to disrepute with unfounded allegations.

Barcelona full statement:

“Faced with the information broadcast today on the program Quê t’hi jugues de Ser Catalunya, FC Barcelona, ​​aware of the facts being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office regarding payments made to external companies, wants to make it clear:

That Barcelona hired in the past the services of an external technical consultant, who supplied, in video format, technical reports referring to players in lower categories of the Spanish State for the Club’s technical secretariat.
Additionally, the relationship with the same external supplier was extended with technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement information required by the coaching staff of the first team and the subsidiary, a common practice in professional football clubs.

Currently, this type of outsourced service falls to a professional attached to the Football Area.

Barcelona regrets that this information appears precisely at the best sporting moment of the season.

Barcelona will take legal action against anyone who damages the image of the Club with possible insinuations contrary to the reputation of the entity that may arise as a result of this information.”

While it is normal for the Catalan club to take to its defense, the club will face an uphill task in clearing its name.

Spanish Tax Agency have insisted there is no document to back up the claim by the club that it entered into any contractual relationship with Jose Mario for consultancy services.

As things stand, the club is expected to lock horns with Spain Prosecutors, who have begun investigations.

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