Barcelona is unlikely to face sanctions for payments made to a company owned by a former Spanish referee, according to reports. The payments, which are alleged to have totaled almost $1.5 million over a three-year period, are being investigated by prosecutors. The company in question was run by José María Enríquez Negreira, a former vice president of the Referees Committee in Spain. The payments are said to have been made between 2016 and 2018, and the company is alleged to have delivered envelopes containing written information and DVDs about the referees ahead of domestic Barca matches.
Negreira confirmed that there was a relationship between the two parties, but he claimed that he only gave “verbal” advice. He said that Barcelona hired him to “ensure that no controversial refereeing decisions went against them.” Former Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has also confirmed that the payments to Negreira’s company went back at least 20 years, and that they totaled around $614,000 per year from 2009. The payments were stopped in 2018, according to Bartomeu.
Barcelona has admitted to the relationship with Negreira’s company, but stated that it was a routine practice among professional soccer teams. In a statement, the club said, “In the past FC Barcelona hired the services of an external consultant that supplied the club’s technical secretaries with reports in video format of youth players from other clubs in Spain. Additionally, the relationship with that supplier extended to technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement the information requested by the first and second team coaching staff. This is a common practice among professional football clubs.”
The Royal Spanish Football Federation is currently investigating the matter, but it seems unlikely that Barcelona will be punished for the alleged payments. The federation would need clear, concrete evidence of match-fixing to take place in order to impose sanctions.
The allegations have come at a time when Barcelona is enjoying success on the field. The team is currently leading the LaLiga standings, having won 17 of their 23 matches so far this season. The club is also in the running for the Copa del Rey and the Champions League titles.
The allegations, however, could tarnish the club’s image and reputation. Barcelona has a long history of success, and its fans are fiercely loyal. The club has also been involved in a number of controversies over the years, including a high-profile tax fraud case involving former player Lionel Messi.
The news of the payments to Negreira’s company has raised questions about the integrity of the sport and the role of referees in professional soccer. Referees are expected to be impartial and unbiased in their decisions, and any indication of match-fixing or impropriety would be a serious breach of trust.
Barcelona’s statement that the relationship with Negreira’s company was a routine practice among professional soccer teams is likely to be met with skepticism by some fans and observers. The club’s success on the field has made it a target for criticism and scrutiny, and any allegations of impropriety are likely to be closely examined.
The current investigation is ongoing, and it remains to be seen whether any further revelations will come to light. In the meantime, Barcelona will be looking to focus on its on-field success and continue to build its reputation as one of the world’s most successful and popular soccer clubs.