Barcelona to be denounced for 'continuous corruption' by Spanish prosecutors after payments to referee vice-president
- Barca made payments between 2001 and 2018
- Total amounted to almost €7 million
- Club to be denounced for "corruption in business"
WHAT HAPPENED? It was first reported back on 16 February that the Catalan club were found to have made payments worth up to €1.6m (£1.4m/$1.7m) to the former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, between 2016 and 2018. Recent information from El Pais has revealed that Barcelona will be denounced as a legal entity for the payments in this two-year period, despite being found to have paid nearly €7 million (£6.2m/$7.4m) to Negreira between 2001 and July 2018.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The findings have come to light following investigations into cash withdrawals made by Negreira from various banks. It is thought that the former referee received this money in exchange for verbal consultancies, whose veracity are now being questioned. While being investigated into tax irregularities committed by his company, Dasnil, Negreira told the Prosecutor's Office that Barcelona had paid him for "neutral" referees and to "make sure that no decisions were made against them" during matches.
However, the Catalan club have denied such accusations, while Negreira refused to testify those claims in court. The CTA, for their part, which is the governing body of Spain's referees' association, cannot decide who referees each match, although it does have the power to rule on each official's individual promotion or relegation.
AND WHAT'S MORE: According to El Pais, Barcelona will be denounced for the "crime of corruption in business". A section of that legal article refers to "managers, administrators, employees or collaborators of a sports entity" (Barca) and also "sportsmen, referees or judges" (Negreira) who intend to "deliberately and fraudulently predetermine or alter the result of a test, meeting or sports competition of special economic or sporting relevance."
Despite payments being accredited since 2001, involving the tenures Joan Gaspart, Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu, it is the specific period of €1.6m paid between 2016 and 2018 that is the focus of the investigation. That means that, despite Bartomeu eventually breaking the deal in July 2018, it will be him and his team who will face the criminal consequences of this case - not current president Laporta.
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WHAT NEXT? A presentation of this denunciation is expected to be made to a court in Barcelona later on Wednesday. Thus far, the Catalan club have denied all allegations, meanwhile FIFA and UEFA - who are unable to intervene due to a statute of limitations - have declined to comment.