FC Barcelona paid €1.4 million to DASNIL, a company owned by former referees committee vice president Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira from 2016 to 2018.
The payments were reportedly for advisory services on how players should behave in front of referees, but the Barcelona prosecutor’s office is investigating DASNIL for corruption.
They allege that Enriquez Negreira did not provide documentation to show that he provided a service to the club.
Despite this, former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted that the payments were legitimate and that they ended due to cost constraints.
Bartomeu also claimed that the payments had existed as early as 2003.
Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart denied any knowledge of the payments, while Joan Laporta, both former and current president of the club, declined to comment.
The Barcelona prosecutor’s office is investigating DASNIL for corruption between individuals due to tax irregularities with the payments.
Enriquez Negreira told Spanish outlet Cadena SER that he provided verbal advice to the club, including on how players should behave in front of each referee. He insisted that he never favored Barcelona in terms of refereeing decisions.
In a statement, FC Barcelona confirmed that the club had received technical reports on referees from an external consultant. The club said that the reports were used to complement the information required by the first-team and academy coaching staff, which is a usual practice in professional football clubs.
The Comite Tecnico de Arbitro (CTA), which is responsible for officiating in Spain, said in a statement that Enriquez Negreira had not been part of any federative structure since 2018.
If it is proven that Barcelona has done wrong, they could face extreme punishment such as being relegated from La Liga or having points docked.
So far, Negreira has reportedly been unable to produce any document that proves he provided the services he was paid for.
The club has denied any wrongdoing, and if they are found guilty, they could be made an example of during a time when they are already at odds with La Liga president Javier Tebas over their support for a breakaway European Super League in alliance with bitter rivals Real Madrid.
It is interesting to note that during the period being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, Barcelona did not receive a single penalty for 78 consecutive La Liga matches.
In s similar case, In 2006, Juventus was found guilty of bribing referees in the “Calciopoli” match-fixing scandal in Italy.
As a result, the club was relegated to Serie B, the second tier of Italian football, and had several titles stripped from them.
The scandal also led to several high-profile arrests and investigations in Italy.
Juventus faced a difficult period of rebuilding and restructuring following the scandal, and it took several years for them to regain their position as one of Italy’s top clubs.