La Liga president Javier Tebas issued a stern warning to Barcelona after Spanish prosecutors accused him of “ongoing sporting corruption”.
Barcelona is at the center of an investigation over alleged payments to Jose Maria Enriquez Negrera, former vice-president of Spain’s arbitration committee.
Negreira is said to have received nearly €7m from Barcelona between 2001 and 2018 in exchange for information and analysis on match officials that could benefit them.
Former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu are named along with three other members of the charges against the club, with prosecutors alluding that the club tried to fix matches with Negrera’s influence and advice.
“Through Presidents Rosell and Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a highly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negrera, so that he, as vice-president of the arbitration committee and for money, would carry out actions aimed at favoring Barcelona,” the Spanish prosecutor said in the decision of the referees in the matches he played. The club and therefore in the results of competitions.”
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The European Football Association also confirmed that it had opened an investigation into this case with the aim of preventing Barcelona from participating in the Champions League next season.
La Liga president Tebas previously admitted that while he might be willing to sanction Barcelona if they are found guilty of wrongdoing, it would be difficult to impose sporting sanctions because those payments were supposedly made more than three years ago, well over the league’s threshold.
But speak in Marca’s sports weekendTebas demanded that Barcelona explain his actions and insisted that the club “should be concerned”.
“We need explanations. If they are calm and keep the explanations to themselves, I think they should be worried. The news is coming, and more will continue to come out because it is inevitable. I think there should be no silence,” Tebas said.
Recent reports in Spain have claimed that Barcelona are comfortable with the charges against them and the independent investigation by UEFA.
It has been claimed that while there may be evidence to suggest that Negrera and his company were paid by Barcelona to analyze match officials, it would be difficult to prove that this was with any intent to fix the games.
Barcelona too Believes UEFA will not sanction them unless the courts do because a premature Champions League ban could result in a lot of financial damages and more legal battles.