Multiple reports in Spanish media have suggested that the global giants are directly linked to bribing match officials after non-invoiced payments were sent to the former vice president of Spain’s Technical Committee of Referees.
Corruption and sport go hand in hand like wine and cheese. Given the nature of the human condition to want to find any possible way to get ahead, it was inevitable that professional sports would always be a go-to landscape to game the system in any way possible.
Football increasingly has come under the microscope in recent years given the rapid rise of the financial side of the sport that is quickly moulding the beautiful game into a gold mine of staggering proportions. The more staggering sums of money flow into the game, the greater the need to be successful in it.
The likes of Juventus and Manchester City are just two gargantuan examples of what can transpire if the powers that be are simply motivated by the almighty pound sign, and unfortunately, if you are a Barcelona supporter, that same chicken may be coming home to roost in Catalunya after multiple outlets in Spanish media have reported that the global giants have potentially involved themselves with match-fixing.
Bombshell report reveals Barcelona paid a company owned by José María Enríquez Negreira €1.4m from 2016-2018.— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) February 15, 2023
At the time, he was a La Liga referee and vice president of Spain's Technical Committee of Referees.
None of the payments was invoiced. https://t.co/87DZ01vhv5
Said reports have detailed a timeline of events linking Barça to non-invoiced payments totalling £1.2m that were sent to the former vice president of Spain’s Technical Committee of Referees José María Enríquez Negreira between 2016-18. Negreira was also a referee at the time of the payments, and on the surface, it is hard to suspect any other plausible scenario other than the 26-time Spanish champion being involved in a bribery scheme.
According to El País, “the investigation began last year as a result of a Treasury inspection of the Dasnil company, owned by the former arbitrator, and aims to find out what motivated that disbursement. The payments analyzed occurred during the tenure of Josep Maria Bartomeu as president of Barça, although according to the sources consulted they date back to the last two decades. Barça has admitted, in a statement, that it commissioned “technical reports related to professional arbitration”. Enríquez Negreira has also acknowledged that he advised the club on the referees that he was going to find in each game.”
The report continued; “The payments were made by “various boards of directors” of the Barça club from the stage of Joan Gaspart (2000-2003), passing through those of Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell, and Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to sources familiar with the investigation, which was extended to last November. The prosecutor in the case, who has already taken a statement from some of those involved, must decide if she sees signs of a crime of corruption between individuals —both Barça and the Committee are private entities— and file a complaint in court or, on the contrary, Archive the investigation. The same sources indicate that, if the reality of the work carried out by Enríquez Negreira is not proven, the oldest payments would no longer constitute a crime because they would have been prescribed.”
How could this all potentially end for Barcelona should the investigation conclude that a crime took place? Possible relegation from La Liga. More on this story as developments unfold.