September 29 – Police have raided the offices of the Spanish FA (RFEF) as part of an investigation into Barcelona’s involvement in an ongoing refereeing scandal.
Barca face charges over payments made to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former vice-president of the RFEF’s refereeing committee, in return for favourable decisions.
In March prosecutors filed a complaint over alleged payments Barca made from 2001 to 2018 totalling €7.3 million to a company owned by Negreira, Dasnil 95.
Barcelona has consistently denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence officials. It has acknowledged paying Dasnil 95, which it described as “an external technical consultant”, to compile video reports on referees “with the aim of complementing the information required by the coaching staff”.
The affair escalated when 18 of the 20 La Liga clubs issued a statement to express “deep concern” over the situation, and Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club would launch an internal investigation into the payments. UEFA also opened their own formal investigation earlier this year but allowed Barca to take part in this season’s Champions League.
The Guardia Civil confirmed that police had searched the offices of the refereeing committee at the federation’s headquarters near Madrid. No arrests were made and police were acting on the orders of the judge who is investigating the case.
The raids come hot on the heels of the sexism scandal that has engulfed Spanish football.
During the years under investigation, Barcelona won nine Spanish league titles and six Copa del Rey trophies.
The accusations are against Barcelona, Negreira, former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, and former Barcelona executives Óscar Grau and Albert Soler.
Getting 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 for such reports is not.
La Liga president Javier Tebas said Thursday that the Negreira case “is causing us a lot of damage.”
“The mere fact that someone would try to influence (a referee) is punishable under Spanish law,” Tebas said. “The investigation is ongoing, but a club paying Negreira is a very serious irregularity.”
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