Spanish prosecutors have officially filed corruption charges against Barcelona and their two former presidents. The club, under the leadership of Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, allegedly made payments to former LaLiga referee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira over a 17-year period.
Along with being a former Spanish league referee, Negreira was also the vice president of Spanish football’s refereeing committee from 1994-2018. He owned a private company called DASNIL 95 during this timeframe as well.
Allegedly paid former ref millions
Prosecutors claim that Rosell and Bartomeu made payments totaling around $7.8 million to DASNIL 95 between 2001 to 2018. Former club executives Oscar Grau and Albert Soler also feature on the list of defendants in the case. Rosell was the club’s president from 2010-2014, while Bartomeu was at the helm between 2014-2020.
All of these defendants, including Negreira, face charges of corruption in business, corruption in sport, false administration and the falsification of commercial documents. The prosecutors office released a statement on the ordeal on Friday.
“Through presidents Rosell and Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favoring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions,” read the statement.
Bartomeu, Negreira and the Catalan club have all previously admitted that a relationship existed between the parties. However, the trio all played down the manner of the connections. Barca even claimed that the payments to Negreira were “common practice” among professional clubs. They also stated that the former ref merely supplied various video reports.
LaLiga President calls for Laporta to exit Barcelona amid corruption
LaLiga boss Javier Tebas recently called for current Barca president Joan Laporta to step down amidst the allegations. Laporta has, however, refused these assertions and even claimed that Tebas is obsessed with his club.
“His obsession with Barca continues. I want to remind you that he is someone that has shown throughout his career that he is anti-Barcelona,” Laporta stated in February.
Earlier this week, Laporta reiterated his stance that Barca have done nothing wrong. “Let it be clear Barca have never bought referees and Barca have never had the intention of buying referees, absolutely never,” said Laporta on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, Laporta could be set to testify at the trial because he was also with the club between 2003-2010. Previously, LaLiga said statute of limitations tied the league’s hands on the issue. Barca could, however, still be in a heap of legal trouble.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Eibner
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