March 13 – Real Madrid are to join an official complaint filed on Friday by prosecutors against Barcelona and two of its ex-presidents over millions of dollars allegedly paid to a company that belonged to the former vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee.
Prosecutors allege that under a secret agreement and “in exchange for money”, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira favoured Barcelona in influencing results.
Real called an urgent board meeting and decided to take legal action for what they called “serious accusations” by prosecutors which claim Barca paid €7.3 million between 2001-18.
“Real Madrid express their deep concern about the seriousness of the facts and reiterate their full confidence in the action of the justice and have agreed that, in defence of their legitimate interests, they will join the complaint as soon as the judge takes up the case,” the club said in an official statement.
The accusations are against Barcelona, Negreira, former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, and former Barcelona executives Óscar Grau and Albert Soler.
Prosecutors said there was sufficient evidence to believe that Rosell and Bartomeu, who ran Barcelona in consecutive terms from 2010-20, “reached a confidential, verbal agreement” with Negreira, who, “in exchange for money, was to carry out acts tending to favour Barcelona football club in the decision-making process of referees in the games played by Barcelona, and in the results of the competitions.”
They added that the amount paid “was not justified because it was not foreseen in the statutes of the club nor approved by its general assembly (of club members).”
There is so far no evidence that referees or game results were actually influenced. Barcelona have consistently denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid DASNIL 95, owned by Negreira, for consultancy advice on referees and that it never tried to influence their decisions in games. The payments were initially investigated as part of a tax probe into Dasnil95.
Obtaining reports on referees is common practice in Spain but paying large amounts of money to a person involved in the running of Spain’s referees isn’t. The scandal threatens to seriously undermine Barcelona’s golden era when they won countless domestic trophies.
Current Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who is not one of those cited by prosecutors, appealed for calm as he protested the club’s innocence.
“Barça is innocent of the accusations made against it and is the victim of a campaign, that now involves everyone, to harm its honorability,” Laporta said on Twitter.
“It is no surprise, and we will defend Barça and prove that the Club is innocent.”
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