Barcelona is under corruption investigation after the club paid €1.4m to the vice-president of the Spanish Referees Committee for ‘neutral’ treatment and advice on how to adapt to each official.
According to information released on Cadena SER radio program Que t’hi jugues, the Catalan giants paid the money through Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira’s company DASNIL 95 over three years during Josep Bartomeu’s presidency.
Negreira received €532,728 ($570,243) in 2016, €541,752 ($579,902) in 2017, and then a further €318,200 ($340607) in 2018.
A report by Spain’s Tax Agency, which is investigating Negreira’s company claims Barca wanted ‘to make sure that no refereeing decisions were made against, that is, “that everything was neutral”.
Negreira and his son Javier Enríquez Romero have already testified and denied the allegations, claiming that his only agreement with Barcelona was to see him recommend how their players should behave in game with referees.
A statement by Barca reads:
In response to information broadcast today on the Què t’hi jugues show on radio station Ser Catalunya, FC Barcelona, which is aware of the investigations into payments of external companies, wishes to make the following points clear:
1. That in the past FC Barcelona hired the services of an external consultant that supplied the club’s technical secretaries with reports in video format of youth players from other clubs in Spain.
2. Additionally, the relationship with that supplier extended to technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement the information requested by the first and second team coaching staff. This a common practice among professional football clubs.
3. These kinds of outsourced services are now the duty of a professional who works for the Football Department.
4. FC Barcelona is sorry that this information has been released precisely when the team has hit its best form of the season.
5. FC Barcelona shall be taking legal actions against those who are trying to tarnish the club’s image with possible insinuations against its good reputation that could be caused by the release of such information.