Barcelona will not face sporting sanctions over alleged referee scandal, Tebas confirms

By Sports Desk February 16, 2023

Barcelona will not face any sporting sanctions for payments allegedly made to a company part-owned by former referee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, LaLiga president Javier Tebas has confirmed.

The Catalan giants have been alleged to have paid €1.4million between 2016 and 2018 to Negreira's company DASNIL 95 SL, with the claims first revealed by broadcaster SER Catalunya earlier this week.

Newspaper El Pais alleged that in return for payments, Barcelona received a written report and DVD assessment of referees prior to games.

Barcelona have strenuously denied wrongdoing, stating they previously hired "an external consultant" who provided video of youth players from other teams, together with "technical reports related to professional refereeing", which it said was "a common practice among professional football clubs".

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said on Thursday it had begun a "request for information" from Barcelona and the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), of which Negreira was a long-time vice-president.

However, statute of limitations laws in Spain only make it possible to punish clubs within three years of any offences, meaning Barca do not face the threat of a points deduction, though criminal action has not been ruled out.

"It is evident that in 2018 and in previous years the 'compliance' regulations which monitor conflicts of interest, both for Barcelona and the referee's committee, failed," Tebas said in a video message published on social media on Thursday.

"From what we are seeing, what's been revealed in the media, they obviously didn't work as these services should never have been provided. Neither the amounts of money, nor the facts which have been unveiled.

"We must clarify from the outset, we have already looked into [sporting sanctions] – it is not possible to impose sports disciplinary sanctions because five years have already passed.

"Criminal jurisdiction is another issue. Now the prosecutor's office is investigating the events that occurred and whether there may be a possible crime of corruption between individuals in terms of match-fixing. Let's see how that investigation ends.

"At LaLiga, we are going to wait and respect the prosecutor's office investigation and once that has finished, see whether it does decide to file the appropriate complaint or lawsuit in the corresponding courts. From there, we will make decisions."

Negreira refereed in the Spanish top flight between 1977 and 1992, before taking up a job with the RFEF between 1994 and 2018.

Barca president Joan Laporta said it is "no coincidence" that the allegations have come to light with the Blaugrana sitting eight points clear at the top of LaLiga.

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