UEFA will apparently take their time in investigating Barcelona’s alleged payments to an ex-LaLiga referee executive. Europe’s governing body of the sport is potentially looking to ban the Barcelona from the Champions League. However, the Daily Mail is reporting that the organization may not make an official ruling on the issue until June.

Barca previously paid millions to Jose Mara Enriquez Negreira dating all the way back to 2001. Negreira, formerly a Spanish league referee, was also the vice president of Spanish soccer’s refereeing committee from 1994-2018. The club claims it paid Negreira solely for refereeing reports. Nevertheless, Spanish prosecutors say that the payments persuaded refereeing decisions during domestic matches.

Barcelona could face ban from Champions League for 1 year

UEFA previously announced an investigation into the payments last month. The governing body could kick Barca out of the competition for one year if the club is guilty of match fixing. The aforementioned news outlet claims that UEFA wants to have an official decision done well before the start of the 2023/24 season.

Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA’s current president, answered questions on the investigation. However, the soccer administrator kept his cards close to his chest. “I cannot comment directly on this for two reasons,” Ceferin told Slovenian newspaper Ekipe SN. “Firstly, because we have an independent disciplinary committee. And secondly, because I have not dealt with this matter in detail.”

“However, I can say something. As far as I am informed, the situation is extremely serious. So serious that it is, in my opinion, one of the most serious (ones) in football since I have been involved in it.”

Statute of limitations does not apply to UEFA

Ceferin also noted that LaLiga will not punish Barca due to statute of limitations, but this doesn’t apply to UEFA’s decision. “At the level of the Spanish league, of course, the matter is out of date and cannot have competitive consequences,” Ceferin continued. “Nothing is time-barred here.”

LaLiga calls meeting to question officiating

Barcelona have firmly denied any wrongdoing in the matter. The Spanish club also previously stated that most top clubs use similar practices. They are currently leading LaLiga by 12 points. However, LaLiga called a meeting of governing boards to question Barcelona and the state of officiating.

The standard of officiating, and the costs paid to referees per game, are vastly different than the Premier League, for example. The league wants to investigate why there are so many red cards and VAR overturns in the league. At the same time, the LaLiga board will question Barcelona over the payments. If Barcelona does not provide suitable and sufficient answers, the board can express its indignation.

That meeting is April 19.