Judge Set To Investigate Referee Scandal


A Spanish court has accepted the complaint lodged by prosecutors against Barcelona last week and will open an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Prosecutors filed charges against Barca last Friday following the revelation of payments made to the former vice president of the refereeing committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.

Ex-Barca presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, former club executives Oscar Grau and Alber Soler and Negreira are also listed as defendants in the case.

They stand accused of corruption in sport, corruption in business, false administration and the falsification of commercial documents.

Barca paid Negreira’s company around €7 million between 2001 and 2018 while he was the vice president of the refereeing committee. He had previously refereed in the Spanish top flight.

Joan Laporta, the incumbent Barca president, has said that the payments were for “technical reports about referees” and denied the club has ever “bought referees or influence.”

However, in the indictment filed last Friday, prosecutors accused Rosell and Bartomeu of having an agreement with Negreira in which “he would carry out actions aimed at favouring Barca in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club and thus in the results of the competitions.”

Rosell was Barca president from 2010 to 2014 before Bartomeu replaced him. After six years at the helm of the Catalan club, Bartomeu resigned in 2020, with Laporta elected as his replacement in 2021.

Speaking this week, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said he was “ashamed” by the case and blasted Laporta for not giving an appropriate explanation for the payments.

Laporta — who will be summoned as a witness in the case because his first spell as president was between 2003 and 2010 — says the allegations are the result of a campaign to stain the club’s image.