FC Barcelona in controversy over millions paid to former referee
Justice in Spain is investigating FC Barcelona for paying nearly 1.4 million euros to former referee Enriquez Negreira. The Catalan club has reacted furiously, threatening legal action “against anyone who tries to damage our image.”
From 2016 to 2018, Barcelona paid 1,392,680 euros, to be exact, into the account of DASNIL 95 SL. That company is owned by Catalan Negreira, who at the time was vice president of the Spanish Referees’ Association.
Justice got on the case through the tax authorities, which stumbled upon the payments. An investigation into possible corruption is ongoing.
In an official statement, Barcelona states that the payment to DASNIL 95 SL was made in exchange for technical advice. The club received video reports of youth players in Spanish soccer.
“In addition, technical reports from professional referees were made as information for the first team’s technical staff. A common practice in professional soccer,” the club writes.
The payments were made under Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club’s previous president. Former board members Albert Soler and Òscar Grau have already given testimony to the judiciary.
“It is no coincidence that this information is coming out at this time,” Barcelona’s current president Joan Laporta told El Mundo Deportivo. The club is now back in the lead in La Liga after several difficult years and will play Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday.
“Any biased or insinuating interpretation of this issue will receive a proportional response from the club,” Laporta warned. “We will defend Barcelona’s interests.”