FC Barcelona Face And Fear Champions League Exclusion From UEFA Over Referee Payments Scandal

FC Barcelona fear being thrown out of the Champions League by UEFA next season in relation to payments they made to the Former Vice President of the Technical Committee of Referees in Spain, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, reports claim.

As explained by SPORT via Goal, European football governing body UEFAEFA
has requested information from the Spanish Football Federation regarding the Negreira case and is following its developments closely.

Behind the scenes at Camp Nou, it is said that there are “growing fears” of a potential sanction which could affect their participation in European competition next term in the 2023-2024 season.

UEFA can punish a club “if an activity has been committed to organize or influence the result of a match at a national or international level,” it is said, and may exercise a sanction “effective only for one football season”.

While not obliged to do so, UEFA can rely on the decision of a national or international sports body, an arbitral tribunal, or a state court – which may be important if Barca are found guilty on corruption charges set to be lodged by Spain’s Prosecutor’s Office.

As things stand, Barca are said to fear reprisals from UEFA for its backing of the breakway European Super League. If this were to pass, Barca could miss out on the Champions League.

News of the payments was revealed by Catalan radio program Que t’hi jugues in February. Made through Negreira’s Dasnil 95 company, they are said to add up to around €1.4 million ($1.5 million) from 2016 to 2018.

Over at El Mundo, the newspaper alleges the payments totaled almost €7 million ($7.5 million) from 2001 to 2018 which also includes president Joan Laporta’s first reign from 2003 to 2010.

Barca have denied wrongdoing and Laporta has said that each payment can be proven as honest by “invoices and documentary and video support” for consultation services carried out by Negreira.

The Blaugrana do not have to fear sanctions from La Liga, with president Javier Tebas saying his body will “respect the investigation that the Prosecutor’s Office is going to do”.

“If it decides to file the appropriate complaint, we will have to appear as a private accusation,” he said.

“However, it is not possible that [FC Barcelona can be punished], since between 2018 and 2023 five years have passed and this type of sanction expires after three years.”

Currently nine points clear at the top of the table, Barca have qualification for the Champions League practically wrapped up. Given their financial difficulties, however, potentially missing out on the revenue that the elite club competition generates in TV and prize money plus gate receipts through a ban is simply unthinkable.

Last summer, Laporta pulled a series of “economic levers” that involved selling a percentage of future television rights income and invested €158 million ($167 million) on new signings in a bid to return Barca back to their glory days.

Were they to miss out on the UCL, this could cause an exodus of big stars and also eliminate any slight possibility of Lionel Messi returning home when his Paris Saint Germain deal expires on June 30.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomsanderson/2023/03/09/fc-barcelona-face-champions-league-exclusion-from-uefa-over-referee-payments-scandalreports/