Barcelona directors claim referee payments were an act of SELF-DEFENCE - with Luis Enrique & Ernesto Valverde set to be interviewed amid corruption scandal

Former Barcelona directors have reportedly claimed referee payments were made in "self-defence", with ex-managers now set to be interviewed.
  • Payments were made between 2001 and 2018
  • Barca directors make 'self-defence' appeal
  • Negreira threatened to go public if payments were stopped

WHAT HAPPENED? The La Liga outfit finds itself in the eye of a storm after it was revealed that payments were made to former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, between 2001 and 2018. Spanish prosecutors have formally charged the club and an investigation is now ongoing, but according to El Mundo, former Barca directors argue that Negreira was paid only to eliminate a perceived bias towards other clubs. Their claims closely match with the statements given by Negreira to Spain's Inland Revenue, where he admitted that he was hired by the club to ensure 'neutral refereeing'. The directors also claim that they were unable to cut ties with Negreira because he threatened to go public about the relationship if the payments were stopped.

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: The Public Prosecutor in Spain alleges that Barca made the payments via two companies owned by Negreira - DASNIL and NILSAT. The investigation will reportedly see former Barcelona coaches Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde called in for interviews, as well as current president Joan Laporta, who has vehemently denied all accusations and insisted that the Catalan club are innocent.

AND WHAT'S MORE: The corruption charges might prove to be a stumbling block to Barcelona's stadium renovation plans, for which the club is planning to take out a loan amounting to €1.5 billion. Barca are set to play home matches at the city's Olympic Stadium from the start of next season while Camp Nou is being redeveloped, but the corruption saga could affect their chances of obtaining the necessary financial backing.

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Joan Laporta Barcelona 2022

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona Athletic Club 2022-23

Luis Enrique Spain 2022

WHAT NEXT FOR BARCELONA? Xavi's troops have not allowed the off-the-pitch controversy to affect them, as they have won four of their last five league games in La Liga, and they will return to action on Sunday in a crucial El Clasico encounter against Real Madrid.