Spanish giants FC Barcelona have been caught up in controversy over allegations of corruption.
The club is accused of making payments to a company owned by former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, with the aim of influencing match results.
Spanish prosecutors have filed a complaint against the LaLiga club and two of its former presidents over alleged payments made between 2001 and 2018. The amount in question is over €7.3m (£6.4m) paid to firms owned by Enriquez Negreira, who held the role at the Spanish football association for 25 years.
These serious allegations have put a cloud over the club’s reputation and raised questions about the integrity of the game. The public prosecutor’s office is taking a strong stance against corruption in football, and it is important that justice is served in this case.
Last month, Barcelona released a statement denying any wrongdoing in the alleged corruption scandal involving payments made to former vice president of Spain’s referees’ committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.
The club stated that they had simply paid an external consultant for technical reports related to professional refereeing, a common practice among professional football clubs. However, prosecutors claim that Negreira had favoured Barcelona in decisions taken by referees during the club’s games and in the results of competitions, in exchange for money under a secret agreement.
The complaint filed against Barcelona, former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, Negreira, and two other former Barcelona officials, focuses on the €2.9m paid between 2014 and 2018. It alleges that the club reached a confidential verbal agreement with Negreira, resulting in corruption in sports, unfair administration, and falsehood in mercantile documents.
The investigation into the alleged corruption was initiated by a tax inspection, during which Negreira reportedly told the Spanish tax agency that Barcelona’s goal with the payments was to have neutral referees in their games.
Barcelona have not yet responded to requests for comment on the matter. This scandal has raised questions about the integrity of professional football and it is important that justice is served in this case.