Barca boss Laporta added to Spanish probe into referee payments

October 19 – Barcelona President Joan Laporta (pictured) has been placed under formal investigation for suspected bribery as part of Spanish football’s ongoing refereeing scandal.

Spanish prosecutors in March filed a complaint over alleged payments Barcelona made from 2001 to 2018 totalling €7.3 million to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice president of Spanish football’s refereeing committee.

Barcelona has consistently denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid an external consultant for “technical reports related to professional refereeing”, which it said was a common practice among professional clubs.

Laporta, who started a second term as Barca’s president in 2021, was also at the helm from 2003 to 2010 to which the latest charges relate.

Last month, investigating judge Joaquin Aguirre Lopez said Barcelona may have benefited from corruption and put the club under investigation for suspected “active bribery”.

Now Aguirre has also named as suspects Laporta and “all those who were members of the board of directors of FC Barcelona during his mandate or who had an effective responsibility in decision-making to allegedly make the illicit payments” to Negreira and his son.

In Spain, being placed under investigation does not necessarily lead to indictment and no formal charges can be brought until the first phase of the investigation is completed.

Laporta was not initially named as a defendant when charges for alleged bribery were filed in September. Former presidents Josep María Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, as well as Negreira and his son, Javier Enríquez Romero, were listed among the accused.

However, the judge in charge of the case ruled on Wednesday that Laporta and his board of directors at the time should be added to the probe.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1702172294labto1702172294ofdlr1702172294owedi1702172294sni@w1702172294ahsra1702172294w.wer1702172294dna1702172294