Barça chairman takes aim at LaLiga chief, corruption scandal rumbles on
Barcelona, Spain, Feb 21 (EFE).- FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Tuesday that the club would “soon” explain its position regarding a scandal relating to payments it made to a company linked to the former deputy head of Spain’s referees and railed against the current head of Spain’s LaLiga.
The Catalan club has been in the media spotlight following reports last week that prosecutors in Barcelona had opened a corruption inquiry into payments totaling 1.4 million euros that the club made between 2016-18 to DASNIL 95 SL, a company belonging José María Enríquez Negreira, who at the time was the vice-president of the Spain’s referee committee (CTA).
Barça did not deny the relationship, saying in a statement last week that the club had received technical reports on refereeing as part of the deal, which it insists was above board.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Laporta said that during his first term in charge of the club, from 2003-2010, the club had paid for the “services” of Negreira’s company and had invoices and “corresponding documentary and video support” to prove it.
Laporta condemned the leaks of data and documents since the allegations surfaced last week, and railed against LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who on Monday called for the Barça president to resign.
“I will not give him the pleasure, because Barcelona belongs to its members,” Laporta said.
“It is not surprising. We had already been warned that Tebas was behind a smear campaign against FC Barcelona and against me,” Laporta said in the press statement delivered from underneath the goalposts at the southern end of the Spotify Camp Nou.
“Tebas continues with his obsession with Barça and his phobia of our club,” Laporta said, reminding observers that in 2005, as vice-president of Alaves, the LaLiga president had filed a complaint so that (Lionel) Messi would not be able to play for Barça.
He also implied that Tebas was using the payments scandal to retaliate against Barcelona for its continued support of the Super League project, a proposed tournament that would rival the UEFA Champions League that was shelved in 2021 after an intense fan backlash.
Laporta warned that “whoever tries to damage the image of FC Barcelona and undermine its history will receive a strong response” from the club.
Spain’s football federation (RFEF) said on Thursday that its integrity department had requested information from the heads of the CTA, which is part of the RFEF, and from FC Barcelona as part of the probe.
The chances of Barça facing sporting sanctions over the deal appear slim, however, given that the statute of limitations in Spanish sporting law is three years. EFE