Barcelona’s participation in the 2024-25 UCL is in doubt if the bribery investigation against them goes to trial.
UEFA could elect to ban the Catalan giants from the UEFA Champions League if there is a case for them to answer.
According to El Debate, a Spanish news site, Judge Joaquin Aguirre has filed charges against the reigning La Liga winners on suspicion of bribery. This is due to a 17-year pattern of payments paid to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA).
During the timeframe of current president Joan Laporta’s first presidency, the Catalans allegedly paid less than $8 million to firms controlled by Negreira between 2001 and 2018. However, both Barcelona and Laporta have claimed they did nothing illegal.
Barcelona confident there is no proof of wrongdoing
Barcelona admitted paying for “technical reports related to professional refereeing” in February, as reported by Reuters. They justified this by saying it was standard procedure among top teams.
Laporta described the case as a massive attempt to destroy Barca’s image via ‘defamatory insinuations’.
“Barca will not come out of this harmed,” he added.
Furthermore, he accused the public of aiming to destroy one of the emblems of Catalonia.
The corruption allegations against Barcelona date back quite a while. Joaquin Aguirre, the judge in the case, argues that the accusation against Negreira should be amended to one of bribery since he was legally recognized to have been a public worker.
Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, two ex-presidents of Barça, are also reportedly facing charges. There is also speculation that Negreira’s son, Javier Enriquez Romero, took part.
UEFA could step up and end Barcelona’s participation in UCL
UEFA will be paying close attention to all of this information. This is because they have threatened to take action in the future if any new information emerges. So, if Barcelona are found guilty, UEFA will act. This could include banning them from tournaments, including the Champions League in the future, the Daily Mail suggest.
With a 5-0 thrashing of Royal Antwerp, Barca began their UEFA Champions League campaign perfectly. Nevertheless, Xavi’s side face the possibility of a one-year suspension beginning with the 2024-25 campaign.
Photo credit: IMAGO / AOP.Press
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