Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has accused a retired referee of attempted extortion.
News comes two days after Barca were under investigation for payments to a company run by José María Enríquez Negreira. Negreira was previously the vice president of the Spanish refereeing committee.
Barca supposedly issued these payments to Negreira to obtain information about referees ahead of matchdays.
In total, the club paid Negreira’s company around $1.5 million during a three-year period. However, Bartomeu stopped these payments in 2018.
Negreira threaten to reveal partnership to league
Following the cutoff, Bartomeu is claiming that Negreira attempted to extort Barca by threatening to reveal the previous partnership.
“When we cut off the relationship, after a few days, I received Enriquez Negreira’s burofax, of which despite the threats, we never heard from him again,” Bartomeu recently told ESPN.
“He sent us the letter in mid-2018 and until today, I always thought that this a useless document, that no matter how much he scratched, he would never get anything out [of it].”
Along with revealing the extortion, Bartomeu also defended Barca’s original payments to Negreira’s company. “Barcelona has nothing to hide and it’s impossible to say that Barcelona rigged any match,” stated Bartomeu. “Saying that is outrageous. Barca have won all the titles in recent years because they have been better than the rest of their rivals.”
“If they want to search, let them search, they will find nothing. And remember that in 2014, for example, a refereeing error cost us a league title at home against Atlético. We never said anything.”
Ex-ref supplied Barca with reports on current refs
The news outlet also pressed the former Barca boss on what exactly Negreira’s company did for Barca as well.
Bartomeu claimed that they were merely reports on referees. “[Negreira] made two types of reports: a pre-game one, in which he indicated what the referee was like and how he behaved, and a post-game one in which he analyzed the work that the referee had done, where he had failed and where he had got it right.”
Barca are unlikely to receive any punishment for the previous payments. Negreira, however, is still under investigation for the ordeal and now the extortion accusations.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Pressinphoto
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