Home » Barcelona, Former Presidents Face Corruption Charges for Payments to VP of Refereeing

Barcelona, Former Presidents Face Corruption Charges for Payments to VP of Refereeing

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Barcelona, Former Presidents Face Corruption Charges for Payments to VP of Refereeing
Erin WalshMarch 10, 2023

Former Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu (R) arrives at the courthouse in Barcelona on October 18, 2022, on the second day of Neymar's trial. - Just a month before the start of the World Cup, Brazilian superstar Neymar was expected to testify at his trial over alleged irregularities in his transfer to Barcelona nearly a decade ago. Neymar had been set to testify on either October 21 or 28 but the judge agreed to bring forward his hearing to avoid a clash with his football commitments. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP) (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona and its former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu are facing corruption charges in Spain for making payments to the former vice president of the refereeing committee, per ESPN’s Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.

Rosell, Bartomeu and Barcelona are accused of “corruption in sport, corruption in business, false administration and the falsification of commercial documents” for paying former referee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira’s company, Dasnil 95 SL, nearly $7.5 million from 2001 to 2018, per ESPN.

Former Barca executives Oscar Grau and Albert Soler are also listed as defendants.

A statement from prosecutors said:

“Through presidents Rosell and Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favouring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions.”

The payments made to Negreira’s company were for “technical reports on refereeing,” according to Barcelona. The club maintains that the services are standard at the highest level of soccer across the world.

Rosell served as Barcelona’s president from 2010 to 2014 before being replaced by Bartomeu, who resigned in 2020. Joan Laporta has served as the Catalan club’s president since 2021.

Laporta also served as Barca’s president from 2003 to 2010 and could be called as a witness, per ESPN. The 60-year-old said in a statement earlier this week that the club has never paid off officials.

“Barca have never bought referees nor influence,” he said. “That was never the intention and that has to be clear. The facts contradict those that are trying to tell a different story.”

Negreira left his role as the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee in 2018. He was previously the only person under investigation for receiving nearly $1.5 million from Barcelona from 2016 to 2018.

Prosecutors opted to pursue charges against Rosell, Bartomeu, Grau and Soler after reviewing payments made from 2014 to 2018.

Barcelona will not face any sporting sanctions in Spain because three-plus years have passed, LaLiga chief Javier Tebas said. However, Tebas made it clear he will take a look at the case again once the legal process has concluded.

ESPN’s notes UEFA “could yet decide to act depending on the outcome” and FIFA, the sport’s governing body, could step in at some point.

Barcelona is one of the world’s greatest soccer clubs in history and has found incredible success over the last two-plus decades. Since 2001, the club has won four UEFA Champions League titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and three FIFA Club World Cups, among various other accolades.

Much of Barca’s success over the last two decades can be attributed to superstar Lionel Messi, who spent 17 seasons with the club from 2004-2021, before departing for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

original source: Barcelona, Former Presidents Face Corruption Charges for Payments to VP of Refereeing

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