Barcelona accused of paying more than £1M to former LaLiga referee

Barcelona are embroiled in a corruption scandal as they are accused of paying over £1MILLION to an ex-LaLiga referees chief for ‘neutral’ treatment and advice on how to adapt to each official

  • Former referee José María Enríquez Negreira has denied favourable treatment 
  • Negreira’s company DASNIL 95 is being investigated by tax authorities right now
  • Barcelona hit back in a statement to claims they paid Negreira for advice 

Barcelona have been accused of paying more than £1million across three seasons to the former vice president of LaLiga referees in a major corruption scandal.

The Catalan side are currently top of the standings in LaLiga and are busy preparing to face Manchester United in the Europa League on Thursday. 

But a report, which was first released on Cadena SER radio program Que t’hi jugues, alleges that Barcelona paid Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, through his company DASNIL 95, €1.4m (£1.2m) during Josep Bartomeu’s presidency.

It is alleged that Negreira, who would go on to become the vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees after retiring, was paid €532,728 (£473,340) in 2016, €541,752 (£481,358) in 2017, and then a further €318,200 (£282,915) in 2018.

All those payments are alleged by the prosector’s office to have been made by Barcelona to DASNIL 95, with a report by Spain’s Tax Agency, which is investigating Negreira’s company, and seen by Diario AS,  claiming they wanted ‘to make sure that no refereeing decisions were made against, that is, “that everything was neutral”.

Prosecutors are investigating allegations that Barcelona paid a former LaLiga referee more than £1million across three seasons for consultancy work on how to behave with officials

Having already testified, Negreira and his son Javier Enríquez Romero have reportedly denied that Barcelona ever received any preferential treatment from referees. 

In his testimony, according to Cadena SER, Negreira claimed that his alleged agreement with Barcelona was to see him recommend how their players should behave in game with referees. 

It is claimed he tailored his advice depending on the referee they were assigned for upcoming matches. 

That is, what they could and should not do depending on the referee designated for the matches 

One issue that has arisen is that the Tax Agency has attested that there is no documentation currently in their possession which details any such relationship of consultancy between Negreira and Barcelona.

The timing is disastrous for Barcelona having spent recent years mired in controversy – but they came out fighting in their own statement on Wednesday.

‘Faced with the information broadcast today on the program Quê t’hi jugues de Ser Catalunya, FC Barcelona, ​​aware of the facts being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office regarding payments made to external companies, wants to make it clear:

  • That Barcelona hired in the past the services of an external technical consultant, who supplied, in video format, technical reports referring to players in lower categories of the Spanish State for the Club’s technical secretariat.
  • Additionally, the relationship with the same external supplier was extended with technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement information required by the coaching staff of the first team and the subsidiary, a common practice in professional football clubs.
  • Currently, this type of outsourced service falls to a professional attached to the Football Area.
  • Barcelona regrets that this information appears precisely at the best sporting moment of the season.
  • Barcelona will take legal action against anyone who damages the image of the Club with possible insinuations contrary to the reputation of the entity that may arise as a result of this information.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has vowed to defend the club's name during the process

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has vowed to defend the club’s name during the process

Furthermore, current president Joan Laporta vowed to ‘defend’ the club’s name amid the ongoing investigation.   

‘The recent report that Barca paid a referee for an investigation? It’s not a coincidence that this information comes out now, when Barca are doing well,’ he said. ‘We reserve all the necessary actions to defend our club.’

If found to have acted illicitly Barcelona, who are currently at loggerheads with LaLiga president Javier Tebas over their continued support for a European Super League, could face stringent penalties.

Both Barcelona and Negreira deny wrongdoing. The investigation continues.