He Barcelona Football Club He is not living his best moment. Sportingly, yes, since they are at the top of the classification and are in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. But in the offices, the Catalan team suffers one of its biggest institutional and reputational crises due to the Negreira case‘, an alleged corruption plot that splashes the arbitration group and casts serious doubts on the honesty of Spanish competition.
Everything was discovered on February 15, when a Spanish radio station, the BE chainpublished that Barça had paid €1.4 million between 2016 and 2018 to a company that belonged to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, then vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) of the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Negreira held the position from 1994 to 2018.
Here are the keys to the case:
At first, the Blaugrana club admits the payments to Negreira’s company and argues that the vice-president of arbitration was hired to ensure the “neutrality” of the group in the matches played by Barcelona. In theory, Negreira was verbally advising the Catalan club on the behavior of each referee on the pitch, so that the players had a technical view of the referee who had been lucky in each match.
the son of Negreira, Javier Enriquez Romero. other media, digital freedom, published several of these alleged technical reports written by Negreira, found at the home of a deceased Barcelona coach. These reports are barely two pages long and are quite bland, unprofessional and riddled with spelling mistakes.
As the investigation progresses, it is discovered that Barcelona have been paying Negreira for at least 17 years, between 2001 and 2018, and that the sum collected by the vice-president of the arbitration group amounts to 7.3 million euros. The case concerns three presidents of the club: Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu. Barcelona stopped paying Negreira in 2018, when he stopped being vice-president of referees and, therefore, he stopped having command and a place in the refereeing team.
It was the Tax Agency that discovered the cake in July 2019 when analyzing the tax returns that the Barcelona Football Club had filed between 2015 and 2018. Then appear strange payments to two companies: Dasnil 95 from Nisdal. Both companies were owned by Enriquez Negreira.
Barcelona stopped paying Negreira in 2018, when he stopped being vice-president of the Spanish referees and, therefore, stopped commanding instead
As these were consulting assignments, the Treasury asked the club to give it information about them: the invoices, who had carried them out, or even the findings themselves. Barca reply that they can’t find the documentation and the Tax Agency understands that tax offenses might have been committed regarding corporate tax and VAT. Barcelona wanted to deduct almost 900,000 euros for these non-existent jobs. The case then goes to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in May 2022.
After ceasing to be hired by Barcelona, after 17 years of payments, Negreira threatened Barcelona with a burofax, a letter revealed by the newspaper The world“I don’t have the will to make public all the irregularities that I have known and experienced first hand in relation to anyone at the Club, but you will force me to do so if you do not reconsider your decision and do not do not respect the agreement we had to continue to count on my services until the end of the presidential mandate.The letter, which is a threat, is addressed to the president of Barça at the time, Josep María Bartomeu.
Friday, March 10, the prosecution formally denounces Negreira and several Barça executives, including former presidents Rosell (2010-2014) and Bartomeu (2014-2020) and the club itself, for a continuous crime of corruption in business, in its modality of sports fraud, another of unfair administration and another of false commercial documents. In short, the prosecution accuses Barça buy Negreira to favor him in arbitrations.
Also appear in the complaint Óscar Grau Gomar, former executive director (CEO) of Bartomeu; and Albert Soler Sicilia, the club’s former professional sports director also with Bartomeu. The prosecution has requested the testimony, in this case as witnesses, of two other former presidents of Barça under whose mandate payments were made: Joan Gaspart (2000-2003) and Joan Laporta (2003-2010).
The prosecution denounced Fútbol Club Barcelona itself for a continuous crime of corruption in business, in the form of sports fraud, another of unfair administration and another of false commercial documents
Former coaches Ernesto Valverde and Luis Enrique are also due to testify as witnesses. There are other witnesses already cited: Javier Enríquez Romero, Negreira’s son; Pere Lluis Mellado, director of the legal sector of Barça; Carles Tusquets, former president of the club manager; José Segura, Barcelona coach; Beatriz Huerta, Treasury Inspector; Concepción Díaz, secretary of Negreira; and José Martínez Alfonso, a worker in one of Negreira’s companies.
The complaint from the Barcelona public prosecutor’s office includes very forceful statements: “Through presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep María Bartomeu, Barça concluded and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the accused Enríquez Negreira, so that in his quality of vice-president, of the Technical Committee of Referees and in exchange for money, carry out actions tending to favor Barcelona in the decision-making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and therefore in the results of the competitions”.
The state attorney general’s office considered the case “of particular importance” and ordered that the investigation be taken over by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and the Civil Guard.
The prosecutor’s office can only investigate payments that have not been prescribed, that is, between 2014 and 2018. During this period, Negreira received 2.9 million. The companies of the vice-president of arbitration “were almost entirely funded by the income of FC Barcelona. The complaint admits that “the destination is unknown” of cash withdrawn with bearer checks.
The Tax Agency is currently investigating how José María Enríquez Negreira used part of the more than seven million euros he received from FC Barcelona. Treasury inspectors have focused on their continued cash withdrawals and are asking to investigate the destination of these bills, in case they were used to pay bribes to third parties. Only between 2016 and 2019, Negreira withdrew from his personal account and the one controlled by one of his companies more than 550,000 euros in species. There is no clue as to the destination of these funds.
The prosecution’s complaint fell before the number 1 Court of Instruction in Barcelona because before this same court a previous complaint had already been lodged by one of the Spanish referees who officiated first division matches under Negreira’s mandate: Xavier Estrada Fernandezcollegiate between 2009 and 2022. The court has already admitted the two complaints for treatment.
Currently, Estrada Fernández is part of the Collegiate Video Arbitration (VAR) team. He filed a criminal complaint against José María Enríquez Negreira and his son, Javier Enríquez Romero, on February 23 in the Barcelona 1 Instruction Court, for this reason the prosecution also filed his complaint in this court, so that they are all united under the same judge.
On the other hand, the real Madrid, Barcelona’s main sporting rival, decided to appear in the case as aggrieved by the severity of the crisis. This was announced this Sunday 12 in a press release: “Real Madrid expresses its deep concern at the seriousness of the events and reiterates its full confidence in the action of justice and has accepted that, for the defense of its legitimate interests, he will appear in the procedure as soon as the judge has opened it to the injured parties.” His character has already been accepted.
For its part, the Professional Football League, which organizes the competition in Spain, will also appear in the case as a private prosecution. This was revealed a few days ago by its president, Javier Tebas. The Spanish government, through the Higher Sports Council, has also announced that it plans to appear if prosecution proceedings prove that crimes have been committed. Another body that has announced its appearance is the Spanish Football Federation.
UEFA also requested documents on the case to the League and the Spanish Football Federation. Although the prosecution’s complaint is in its initial phase, if the seriousness of the accusations is demonstrated, the head of European football could seriously sanction Barcelona, not only with economic fines, but with the loss of titles won and in the worst case with downgrading. The possibility of excluding the Catalan club from European competitions next season is also on the table.
For his part, the current president of FC Barcelona, John Laporta, reacted to the complaints by assuring that “Barça is innocent of what it is accused of and the victim of a campaign against its honor”. Laporta stressed that the club will prove their innocence and “many will have to rectify”.
Launch of Laporta one last statement this Friday the 17th to Barça supporters via social networks: “The campaign we are undergoing is no coincidence and its objective is to destabilize the team in the short and medium term to control and stay at Barça. I will have time to explain who, why and how they want to orchestrate this campaign,” he said.
A few days ago, the judge in charge of the investigation reported a strange burglary at her home while the magistrate was inside her home, a single-storey house located in a town in the outskirts of Barcelona. Despite this, he did not suffer no personal injury. The thieves caught cash, jewelry and miscellaneous effects. An investigation is underway to find out if any documents or electronic devices were also taken away. where the judge could keep records related to her work.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.
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