O Real Madrid officially commented on the scandal involving the arch-rival barcelona for alleged corporate corruption, which would consist of payments to Enríquez Negreira, a former arbitrator and vice-president of the Spanish Arbitration Commission. After a meeting of its Board of Directors this Sunday morning, the Madrid club issued a statement saying that it “has deep concern about the serious accusations” and confirmed that it will continue the process when the Spanish Public Ministry opens it to the aggrieved parties.
“The Board of Directors of Real Madrid CF, at its meeting held today (12/03), became aware of the serious accusations made by the tax authorities of Barcelona against FC Barcelona, two of its presidents, Josep María Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, and former directors Albert Soler and Óscar Grau, based on potential offenses, among others, of corruption in the sporting field, in the context of relations between the club and the former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees, José María Enríquez Negreira” , says the note.
“Real Madrid expresses its deep concern about the seriousness of the event and reiterates full confidence in the action of justice and has agreed that, in defense of its legitimate interests, it will attend the process when the judge opens it to the aggrieved parties”, concludes the note from the club.
UNDERSTAND THE CASE
Spain’s Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating Barcelona over payments to a former football referee in the country, which falls under the crime of continuing corporate corruption. The club would have disbursed 1.4 million euros, equivalent to R$ 7.7 million, to José María Enríquez Negreira. Barça confirmed the payments, but did not quote the amounts.
The complaint states that the club made a verbal agreement for Negreira, then vice-president of the CTA, to carry out actions to favor Barcelona in the club’s matches in exchange for money. The investigation began in May 2022 and those investigated could receive up to four years in prison, in addition to fines, dissolution of Barcelona and sporting punishments for the club.
The case came to light during an investigation into the payment of taxes to DASNIL 95 SL, a Negreira company, on the amount received over those three years. The values have not been confirmed by Barcelona. But the club published a statement on Wednesday, February 22, to reiterate the payments. “FC Barcelona has in the past contracted the services of an external technical consultant, who provided, in video format, technical reports referring to lower category players in Spain to the technical secretariat of the Club”, said the board of Barcelona, in the statement.
Payments were interrupted in 2018 by Josep Maria Bartomeu’s board and, according to El País, Negreira’s company’s income has plummeted since then. The former referee even sent threats to make the case public to demand that the agreement be complied with until the end of Bartomeu’s term.
The Catalan club argues that the practice is “common” among professional football teams. “Additionally, the relationship with the external provider itself was expanded with technical reports related to professional arbitration, in order to complement the information required by the technical committee of the main team and the subsidiary, a common practice in professional football clubs.”
Barcelona reported that this service is now carried out by a professional from the club itself. To the Spanish newspaper Marca, the former president of Barça, Josep Maria Bartomeu, reinforced that this type of service is recurrent in the world of football. “All clubs need match analysis from a refereeing point of view.”
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