La LigaSpanish football is going through the worst moment in its history due to the referee corruption case involving FC Barcelona, the president of the Professional Football League (LaLiga), Javier Tebas, said on Monday.
Last week, Spanish justice charged the Catalan club and several of its former managers with “corruption”, “breach of trust” and “false business records” after payments of more than 7.3 million euros to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former head of the referees, also prosecuted, were discovered at the beginning of the year.
“I am ashamed”
FC Barcelona claims to have paid the former head of the arbitration committee of the Spanish football federation (CTA) from 1994 to 2018 for reports and advice related to arbitration. “There are payments recognized by Barcelona to the vice-president of the CTA, it’s something abnormal,” Tebas told Movistar Vamos channel. “It is clear that this generates tension. The reputation of our football is at stake. I am ashamed. We have no explanation from Barcelona”, thundered the leader.
To put an end to the accusations, Barça president Joan Laporta claimed last Tuesday that his club had “never bought a referee”. “Let it be clear that Barça has never bought a referee nor intended to buy referees. Absolutely never”, defended the leader during a conference.
“Fighting the scoundrels who tarnish our image”
On Monday, Laporta appeared emotional during a speech at the Camp Nou and said it was not weakness, but on the contrary proof of his desire to tackle his club’s critics. “Do not think that I am moved by weakness, I am because I really want to face all the villains who tarnish our image”, he hammered. “There are fierce attacks that aim to smear our club, which have nothing to do with reality,” he continued.
The Barcelona public prosecutor’s office has launched proceedings against Barça as a legal person, as well as against its former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu (from 2014 to 2020), and Sandro Rosell (between 2010 and 2014). Oscar Grau and Albert Soler, members of Mr Bartomeu’s former team, are also being prosecuted.
Former FC Barcelona coaches Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde will be called to testify in the legal proceedings, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Monday. Reigning Spanish champions Real Madrid said on Sunday they would appear as a “civil party” in the case once it moves forward.
Sanctions against the club could range from “suspension of activity…to outright dissolution of the company”, Alberto Palomar, a law professor at Carlos III University in Madrid, told AFP. Madrid.
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