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Barcelona charged with corruption over €7.3m made to former referees’ boss

BARCELONA have been charged with corruption over payments the club made to a former top member of Spain’s referees’ committee.

The European giants allegedly made payments to ex-vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.

The Spanish public prosecutor’s office said tonight prosecutors had filed a complaint against Barcelona and two of club’s ex-presidents over alleged payments to a company owned by the senior refereeing official to influence match results.

The club allegedly paid over €7.3m between 2001 and 2018 to companies owned by Negreira, who was in the powerful position at the Spanish football association between 1993 and 2018.

Prosecutors claim that under a secret agreement and ‘in exchange for money’, Negreira favoured Barcelona ‘in the decisions taken by referees in the games played by the club, as well as in the results of the competitions’, Sky Sports reported tonight.

The club, who are currently topping the Spanish top flight table, had denied wrongdoing in a statement last month, saying they had simply paid an external consultant that supplied them with ‘technical reports related to professional refereeing’.

They referred to their action as ‘a common practice among professional football clubs’.

The complaint focuses on the €2.9m paid between 2014 and 2018 and alleges that Barcelona — with the help of former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu — reached a ‘confidential verbal agreement’ with Negreira, various outlets reported tonight.

It accuses the club, Rosell, Bartomeu, Negreira and two other former Barcelona officials of corruption in sports, unfair administration and falsehood in mercantile documents.

A tax inspection led to the investigation and Negreira told the Spanish tax agency that Barcelona’s goal with the payments was to have ‘neutral’ referees in their games, according to El Pais newspaper.

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