Gerard Pique claims Barcelona players had 'no idea' about referee payments
- Pique said the players were unaware of payments
- Dubbed charges a "conspiracy"
- Barcelona are currently under investigation
WHAT HAPPENED? Barcelona have been charged by Spanish prosecutors for paying Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees, more than €7 million (£6.2m/$7.4m) over a nearly 20-year period. Club officials claim they were getting scouting reports in return.
Club legend Pique has now claimed the players knew nothing about the payments during his time at Camp Nou.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Pique explained his ignorance in an interview with El Pais, as he stated: "Nothing happened to the players. I never asked for anything. Others asked for reports from the opposing team and perhaps some did from the referees. I have no idea."
He also suggested that the charges are a conspiracy against the club: "But this is a subject that gives for conspiracies and newspaper front pages. That's what the country lives on. I think you have to teach the why of things."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Pique was at the club for most of the period in which Barcelona are accused of paying referees, and was a crucial player from 2016-2018, the years the Blaugrana are being investigated for. Barcelona continue to insist they've done nothing wrong, with club president Joan Laporta vowing to defend the team.
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WHAT NEXT? Barcelona have been charged and are under investigation, with a lengthy legal process set to continue in the coming months. Barcelona play Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday night, where they can go 12 points clear with a win.