Amid an on-field renaissance, FC Barcelona has grow to be embroiled in messy scandal involving payments to a shady company owned by the then-vice president of Spain’s high refereeing committee.
There isn’t a proof that Barca, the Spanish league’s most profitable membership of the twenty first century, used the funds to immediately affect referees who presided over its video games. However experiences in Spain this week have revealed that, between 2001 and 2018, the membership paid greater than 6 million euros to the corporate, whose proprietor and sole administrator had been the high-ranking referee committee official, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, and his son.
Barca has acknowledged the funds, and stated in a Wednesday assertion that they’d “employed the companies of an exterior guide” that equipped “technical experiences associated to skilled refereeing.” However several details have since emerged to inflame suspicions.
Here’s what we find out about a murky scenario that, at finest, appears to contain a blatant battle of curiosity.
Who was Barca paying?
Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira refereed in Spanish soccer’s first division from 1975-1992, then, in 1994, turned the vp of the Comité Técnico de Árbitros (CTA), a committee inside Spain’s soccer federation that oversees referees. He held that place till 2018.
In the meantime, he owned an organization referred to as DASNIL 95. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the overwhelming majority of the corporate’s income got here from FC Barcelona. (In 2016, for instance, according to documents revealed by Cadena SER, Barca paid the corporate 532,728 euros, and its complete annual revenue was 567,136 euros.)
What was Barca paying for?
Barca officers and Negreira say that the funds had been for consulting companies. Both Negreira or his son, Javier — reportedly the corporate’s solely worker — would allegedly ship experiences to the group’s sporting employees to assist them perceive what gamers may and could not do in video games overseen by sure referees.
“It’s false and absurd to assume that we paid off any referee,” Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barca’s former president, said Thursday. Their declare is that, primarily, they had been scouting the refs. Why they had been paying tons of of hundreds of euros for that service is unclear.
What motive is there to be suspicious?
All of this has come to light amid an investigation by a neighborhood prosecutor’s workplace into DASNIL’s monetary data after tax inspectors flagged irregularities. The investigation has reportedly discovered that Negreira “didn’t present any doc proving that he supplied a service to FCB.”
Negreira, in response to this, stated that no documentation exists as a result of he was verbally advising Barca, although Bartomeu has stated that there have been written experiences and video evaluation.
Barcelona has claimed that each one of that is “widespread observe amongst skilled soccer golf equipment,” however Negreira has admitted that he was working solely with Barca.
Barca then stopped the funds in 2018, across the time Negreira departed his place on the referees committee. (Bartomeu, who was president on the time, has justified this as a cost-cutting measure.)
The next 12 months — in line with a Friday report from El Mundo, a outstanding Spanish newspaper — Negreira despatched a fax to Barca threatening to show the membership except they resumed their partnership. “If there is no such thing as a settlement,” Negreira wrote, “all of the irregularities will come out.”
What’s the case for Barca’s innocence?
It is unclear what, precisely, the “irregularities” or improprieties may be. However Negreira’s former colleagues have indicated that his capacity to truly affect referees in his function as VP was very restricted. He did not have the authority to nominate particular refs to particular matches.
Negreira himself has stated that he by no means favored Barca in any manner, and that each one he would or may do was make sure the group was handled pretty and “neutrally.” (The membership has lengthy been skeptical of any establishment affiliated with Spain’s soccer federation, the RFEF, which relies in Madrid, the house of Barca’s largest rival, Actual Madrid.)
Barca officers, in the meantime, have tried to distract from the info of the case by intimating that media experiences are an effort to smear the membership because it ascends towards a La Liga title. “It’s not a coincidence that this data has come out now,” present president Joan Laporta stated in an deal with to followers. The membership even wrote in its official assertion: “Barcelona regrets that this data appeared simply at the most effective sporting second of the current season.”
May Barca be punished?
La Liga president Javier Tebas said Thursday that the league is not going to hit Barca with sporting sanctions as a result of a three-year statute of limitations has elapsed. (The funds resulted in 2018.)
The native prosecutor’s investigation, nonetheless, stays ongoing, and will result in felony punishment for both Barca or Negreira, or each.
Spain’s soccer federation, in the meantime, has additionally stated it would examine. The CTA, its referees committee, stated in a press release that “no lively referee or member of the CTA our bodies might perform any work that’s more likely to represent a battle of curiosity. The CTA is making itself out there to authorities to supply its full collaboration with any kind of data it will probably present.”
So, whereas Barca’s culpability is unsure, on the very least, Negreira’s fame will doubtless take a extreme hit. Actually, it already has. El Pais, a Madrid-based newspaper, framed him as both “corrupt” or “a conman,” in that he had milked tens of millions of euros out of Barca whereas “promoting snake oil,” as one former referee put it.
“He’s a mug,” a former federation worker told El Pais. “With out having a related function in refereeing, he has taken benefit of his scenario.”