Judge agrees to launch investigation into Barca Ref scandal

A Spanish court has accepted the lawsuit filed by prosecutors against Barcelona last week and will launch an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Prosecutors filed charges against Barca on Friday after leaking payments to former referee committee vice-president Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.

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Ex-Barca presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, former club managers Oscar Grau and Alber Soler and Negreira are also listed as defendants in the case.

They are accused of corruption in sports, corruption in business, mismanagement and falsifying commercial documents.

Barca paid Negreira’s company around €7m between 2001 and 2018 while he was vice-president of the referees’ committee. Previously, he had whistled in the top Spanish division.

Barca acting president Joan Laporta said the payments were for ‘technical reports on referees’ and denied the club had ever ‘bought referees or influence’.

However, in the indictment filed on Friday, prosecutors accused Rosell and Bartomeu of reaching an agreement with Negreira in which “he would take measures aimed at favoring Barca in referee decision-making in the club’s matches and therefore in the results of the competitions.

Rosell was Barca president from 2010 to 2014 before Bartomeu replaced him. After six years at the helm of the Catalan club, Bartomeu resigned in 2020 and Laporta was chosen as his successor in 2021.

This week, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said he was ashamed of the case and berated Laporta for failing to provide a proper explanation for the payments.

Laporta – who is being called as a witness in the case because his first term as president ran between 2003 and 2010 – says the allegations are the result of a campaign to tarnish the club’s image.

LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] have both said they will take the criminal case to a resolution before deciding what action to take.

Tebas has already said that LaLiga can’t punish Barca with a sporting sanction due to the time elapsed. However, UEFA and FIFA could intervene and both Tebas and RFEF have revealed that UEFA has requested information on the case.

https://www.espn.com/soccer/barcelona-espbarcelona/story/4901390/spanish-court-to-start-investigation-into-barcelona-referee-corruption-case Judge agrees to launch investigation into Barca Ref scandal

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