FC Barcelona and some of its former leaders indicted by the Spanish courts for suspicion of corruption of arbitration bodies

FC Barcelona and some of its former leaders indicted by the Spanish courts for suspicion of corruption of arbitration bodies

A FC Barcelona supporter holds a ticket bearing the image of Joan Laporta, president of the club between 2003 and 2010 and since 2021, during the meeting between the Catalan team and Real Madrid, in the Spanish capital, on March 2 2023.

Spanish justice on Friday March 10 indicted FC Barcelona and some of its former leaders for “corruption”, “breach of trust” and “false business records” in the case of the Catalan club’s suspicious payments to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreiraex-senior official of Spanish arbitration, also prosecuted.

These proceedings, decided by the Barcelona public prosecutor’s office, target Barça as a legal entity, as well as Josep Maria Bartomeu, head of FC Barcelona between 2014 and 2020, and Sandro Rosell, president of the Catalan club between 2010 and 2014. Oscar Grau and Albert Soler, members of Mr Bartomeu’s former team, are also being prosecuted.

Seized by the tax authorities on possible irregularities in the payment of taxes by a company belonging to Enriquez Negreira, the prosecution had opened a preliminary investigation in the spring of 2022 in order to verify the reason and the framework for these payments of money.

“FC Barcelona has obtained and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with José Maria Enriquez Negreira so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the technical arbitration committee and in exchange for money, the latter may carry out actions tending to benefit FC Barcelona. in the decision-making of the referees”explained the prosecution.

The sums could have been used to bribe game directors

The announcement of proceedings against Barça and its former presidents, which is now in the hands of Barcelona’s number one investigating court, marks an important step in the judicialization of this arbitration scandal, likely to weaken the Catalan club. According to the prosecution, the Catalan club paid a total of more than 7.3 million euros to José Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former referee and former vice-president of the technical arbitration committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation between 1994 and 2018.

These payments, made through the company Dasnil 95, owned by Mr. Negreira, began in 2001 and ended in 2018, when the latter lost his position as number two in Spanish arbitration and the committee Spanish arbitration technique has been restructured. According to FC Barcelona, ​​which denies any irregularity, Dasnil 95 was paid to advise the club on arbitration matters, but the Spanish courts believe that the sums in question could have been used to bribe game directors.

“Barca have never bought referees and never intended to buy any, let’s be clear”, assured Tuesday the current president of FC Barcelona, ​​Joan Laporta, during a press conference. A message consistent with that of Mr. Negreira, who denies any favors done to Barça. On the sporting level, FC Barcelona risks nothing, at least in Spain: the facts, more than five years old, are indeed considered prescribed, according to the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas. We do not yet know at this stage the position of UEFA and FIFA.

On the criminal level, the leaders implicated risk sentences of six months to four years in prison. Sanctions against Barca could range from “suspension of activity” of the club “until its dissolution” pure and simple as a company, according to Alberto Palomar, professor of law at the University Carlos III of Madrid, consulted by AFP.

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The Negreira case has cast doubt on Spain’s refereeing body, which last week issued a manifesto demanding that a person’s alleged actions do not come “tarnish” I’” picture “ and the” honor “ of the profession. “The problem worries us because it harms Spanish football and sport”assured for his part Tuesday the Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta.

The World with AFP

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