Spanish football was rocked, Friday, with the announcement that world club football giants FC Barcelona have been charged by the Barcelona provincial prosecutor’s office.
THE CHARGES presented to the No. 1 magistrate’s court in Barcelona include “continued corruption between individuals in the sports field as an alleged payment scandal”.
The club fondly called Barça along with others have also been charged with “the crime of continued false administration and the crime of continued falsification of commercial documents”.
Former Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu was also named in the Prosecutor’s Office report
Former Barça president Sandro Rosell is one of the accused in the Prosecutor’s Office report.
THE ACCUSED are José María Enríquez Negreira — a former leading refereeing official in Spain along with former FC Barcelona presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, the club’s former CEO Oscar Grau, former club director of professional sports Albert Soler.
The CTA is the governing body responsible for deciding which referees and assistants officiate league and national competitive matches in Spain.
THE ACCUSED held positions of power in the club and were aware of payments which were invoiced annually from January 2011 until June 2018 to two companies that Enríquez Negreira — who was serving as a CTA vice president from 1993 to 2018 — founded, which “acted on behalf and in direct benefit to Barcelona.”
FC BARCELONA is accused of — through both Rosell and Bartomeu — coming to a “strictly confidential verbal agreement” with Enríquez Negreira with the aim to “produce actions which tended to favor Barcelona in the form of refereeing decisions.”
REFEREE TAMPERING uncovered by the investigation says that the club paid Enríquez Negreira two companies a total of $3,175,589.21 (€2,971,673.01) between those years, mostly under the pretense of “assessment of technical videos.” After Negreira relieved of his vice presidency at the CTA in 2018, the payments from Barcelona stopped.
An FCB source told CNN that the club did not have an official statement, though its first reaction was that the charges were to be expected after recent events, but that the report was an “absolutely preliminary investigative hypothesis” and that the club would assist the investigation in any way possible. The source also strongly denied that the club had at any time bribed a referee or tried to influence refereeing decisions.
If Barcelona is found guilty of corruption and attempting to rig games, they risk being excluded from the UEFA Champions League.