Prosecutors have formally accused La Liga giant, Barcelona of corruption over alleged payments to a company that belonged to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former Vice President of Spain’s referees’ committee, for several years.
Prosecutors will now be pursuing a case against Barcelona after the official announcement on Friday, March 10.
This is coming weeks after it was reported that Barca paid Negreira and a company he owns 8.4m euros (£7.4m) between 2001 and 2018. While Barcelona had claimed they were only interested in referee scouting reports, their sporting integrity has also been called into question.
Former Presidents of the Spanish football club, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell are also targeted in the case.
The public prosecutor’s office said in a statement;
“FC Barcelona obtained and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the technical arbitral committee (CTA) and in exchange for money, the latter carries out actions tending to benefit FC Barcelona in decisions by the referees.”
Despite the club’s stance, revelations that Negreira offered to “help with VAR” suggests that there could be more for prosecutors to investigate. If found guilty, Barcelona could face sporting sanctions.
Barcelona coach Xavi, who won eight La Liga titles with them as a player between 1998 and 2015, has said he had no knowledge of the payments and never had the feeling his team had any advantage.