LaLiga president Javier Tebas has claimed that Barcelona boss Joan Laporta should resign if he can’t offer a valid explanation over corruption and referee payments. The Spanish club has come under fire for paying a former vice president of the Referees Committee in the country. José María Enríquez Negreira, who was also previously a LaLiga referee, reportedly received over $8.5 million from Barca since 2003.

“If he does not explain what they were paying for, I think he should step down,” Tebas told reporters on Monday.

“He has not offered a reasonable explanation for these payments. In Barca’s statement, it was as if every football club does the same. It is evident they do not. One thing is to have ex-referees [offering advice]; another is to have ex-referees who are on the refereeing committee.”

“[Laporta] will have to explain why, in his first spell as president, he did this. It is something I would like cleared up. It’s not just the three seasons [being investigated by tax office], it’s many more.”

Club claims payments are common practice among top teams

Barca have insisted that these payments were for “technical reports” on referees in Spain. They also suggested that these types of deals are “common practice” and many other clubs pay for similar reports. However, former Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently stated that Negreira attempted to extort the club when the payments stopped. The ref threatened to expose his financial relationship with the team to league offices.

Barcelona president labels LaLiga President obsessed over corruption

Current Barca boss Joan Laporta has responded to Tebas’s comments regarding his possible resignation. The club president claimed that Tebas is obsessed with Barca. “Mr. Tebas has come to the fore again,” Laporta said on Tuesday. “We had been warned that he is promoting a campaign against Barca and against me as a person… now the mask has come off.”

“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. In 2005, he didn’t want Messi to play for Barca and fought [his registration], for example.”

“He has not forgiven us for not signing the agreement with CVC, when we signed much better agreements for the club. He also can’t stand the Super League.”

“Mr. Tebas has now said that I should step down. His intention is to control Barca from afar. He is always trying to destabilize us. What do I say to him? That I won’t give him the pleasure. Barcelona is owned by the members.”

Barca will not be facing any significant sporting sanctions by LaLiga for the payments. Sporting statute of limitations inside Spain is currently just three years and the payments go back at least five years.