FC Barcelona is the subject of a formal inquiry by UEFA into whether it may have broken the rules of the European football governing body. It was by paying a company owned by a senior refereeing official. UEFA announced this on Thursday. A Barcelona court decided to embark on the issue last week.
Prosecutors complained about payments totaling 7.3 million euros ($7.95 million) to companies held by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018. From 1993 to 2018, Negreira served as the vice president of the Spanish Football Association’s officiating committee under then-president Victoriano Sanchez Arminio. Negreira could not be reached for comment right away.
UEFA launches an inquiry into Barca’s payments to a former refereeing official
Due to the high-profile nature of the charges, state attorney general Alvaro Garcia Ortiz requested on Tuesday that the case be transferred to the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office. A “secret verbal agreement” was allegedly formed between Barcelona and Negreira with the aid of the club’s previous presidents, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to the prosecutors’ accusation.
It concentrates on the 2.9 million euros paid between 2014 and 2018. The club issued a denial of wrongdoing last month. It claimed it had hired an outside consultant who had provided it with “technical reports relevant to professional officiating.” It contended that professional football teams frequently engaged in this behavior.
A senior Barcelona official said the club had anticipated the prosecutors’ accusation. He also told Reuters that it was “nothing more than an utterly preliminary investigative hypothesis.”
Rosell wasn’t available to remark right away. According to its president Javier Tebas, LaLiga stated earlier this month that it sent the case to UEFA. No sanctions could be imposed since three years had passed since the alleged infractions. The official said the club would fully cooperate with the investigation. Reiterating that “they have never bought any referee nor have tried to influence any official’s decisions.”