Police investigators see deliberate 'confusion' in Barça referee payments

Spanish newspaper El Mundo report Guardia Civil document suggests refereeing decisions were not always "impartial"

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Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

September 4, 2023 02:07 PM

September 4, 2023 02:13 PM

Spain's Guardia Civil police have concluded their investigation into the payments between FC Barcelona and former referees' official, as requested by magistrates, and newspaper El Mundo reports that referees in Spain were "not always impartial." 

The news outlet reports that they have had exclusive access to the document and claim that police view deliberate "confusion" in the payments from the club to the former official with regards to the concepts that the payments were for, the services provided, and the people who performed them. 

El Mundo say that this confusion dates back to Joan Laporta's first mandate in charge of the Catalan club, between 2003-2010. 

The report says the findings of the investigation "could lead to a loss of credibility" for Spanish football which "could see sporting and non-sporting consequences at a national or international level" for Barça.

Magistrates are investigating charges of corruption over €8 million payments that FC Barcelona made to José María Enríquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018 while he was the vice-president of the referees' technical committee. 

Barcelona have always denied any wrongdoing with regards the payments, instead explaining that they were made for technical reports on referees of upcoming games of the club.

The latest report compiled by Spanish police as part of the investigation of the 'Negreira case' considers it "striking" that many payment data invoiced both by Barça and the network of companies of Enríquez Negreira and his son do not match.  

According to El Mundo, investigating officers view this issue not as mere administrative errors but as a method to conceal the reality of the payments. 

The Guardia Civil considers that the referees' technical committee had an "irregular" operation, as Negreira, as vice-president, received such quantities of money from FC Barcelona. The police report adds that this arrangement led to caused "refereeing decisions that would not always have been impartial in sports."

The reports published by El Mundo also describe that the Judicial Policing Unit of the Guardia Civil have found that Negreira took most of the money that Barça paid him in cash and in quantities of less than €3,000 to circumvent controls. The report also highlights that the final destination of the money remains to be known. 

The report also makes it clear that Negreira did not increase his assets while being paid by Barça and warned that the events may hint at a possible crime of money laundering