Judge accepts case against Barça over referee payments scandal

Barcelona, Spain Mar 15 (EFE).- A Barcelona judge on Wednesday accepted a case lodged by prosecutors against FC Barcelona and the former vice president of Spain’s referee committee (CTA) in an alleged corruption scandal that has embroiled the footballing giants.

Barcelona made payments totalling 7.3 million euros to a firm belonging to former referee and erstwhile senior CTA official José María Enríquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018 in a case that could amount to “continued sporting corruption,” breach of trust and false documentation, prosecutors say.

Ex-Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, ex-director general Óscar Grau and ex-sporting director Albert Soler have all been accused of being involved in the scheme.

Barcelona judge Silvia López Mejía has also accepted a suit filed by former referee Xavier Estrada Fernández against Enríquez Negreira and his consultancy firm Dasnil 95 for alleged sporting fraud, according to the judicial decree seen by Efe.

Enríquez Negreira, CTA vice president between 1993 and 2018, collected payments from FC Barcelona through the companies Dasnil 95 SL, Nilsad SCP and Soccercam SL. The club said his services consisted of referee reports, scouting and information on grassroots football.

Prosecutors allege that between 2016 and ‘18, Soccercam SL, which belonged to Enríquez Negreira’s son, did not directly charge FC Barcelona for its services but rather routed them through a third company owned by Josep Contreras, who at the time was a member of then-president Bartomeu’s board.

This set up, according to the prosecution, allowed the former CTA official’s son, Javier Enríquez Romero, to avoid having his surname linked with the club.

The investigation into the allegedly criminal payments dates back to July 2019, when Spanish tax authorities took a closer look at the arrangements between the club and the companies linked to Enríquez Negreira.

Prosecutors believe that Barcelona, while under the direction of Rosell and Bartomeu, had highly confidential financial arrangements with Enríquez Negreira in exchange for information on referees that would benefit the club. EFE


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