Spanish Prosecutor’s Office Will File FC Barcelona Corruption Complaint Over Referee Payments

Spain’s Prosecutor’s Office will file a corruption complaint against FC Barcelona related to its payments to the Former Vice President of the Technical Committee of Referees Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a report has claimed.

Catalan radio program Que t’hi jugues revealed in February that the payments through Negreira’s Dasnil 95 company added up to around €1.4 million ($1.5 million) from 2016 to 2018. At El Mundo, the newspaper said they totaled almost €7 million ($7.5 million) from 2001 to 2018 which includes the first reign of current club president Joan Laporta from 2003 to 2010.

Barca swiftly denied wrongdoing in a statement, with Laporta using a special address on the matter to say that each payment can be backed by “invoices and documentary and video support” for consultation services that Negreira carried out.

Amid La Liga president Javier Tebas suggesting that Laporta should resign if he can’t explain the payments “well”, national newspaper El Pais has reported on Tuesday that the Prosecutor’s Office in Spain will file a complaint against the league leaders for “corruption in business”.

As AS explains, this is a crime that came into force during penal reforms in 2010, and also includes alleged fraud in sports. With the payments having allegedly started in 2001 while carrying through to 2018, they would be in the scope of the complaint reportedly set to be filed by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Though it was originally suggested that Barca could face severe punishment such as a points deduction or relegation if found guilty of wrongdoing under Article 75 of national federation RFEF’s Disciplinary Code, Tebas has confirmed that no such sporting action will take place on his watch.

“From La Liga we will respect the investigation that the Prosecutor’s Office is going to do and, 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 [Barcelona can be punished], since between 2018 and 2023 five years have passed and this type of sanction expires after three years.”

This aside, it certainly wasn’t a good look for Barca when news of the Public Prosecutor’s alleged intentions broke while Laporta was holding a press conference to mark two years since winning the election that granted him a second reign in 2021.