FC Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs in the world. They have dominated many clubs and have been the best in La Liga for quite some time. The 2023 La Liga Champions are loved by many, but their reputation is in trouble now.
The Catalan giants are charged with bribery and corruption, which give their rivals a chance to lift fingers at their achievements. Many speculate that Barca have been bribing the referees to shift favors in their direction, giving themselves an unfair advantage to win several matches.
Why is Barcelona being charged with bribery and corruption?
FC Barcelona are being charged with ‘continued corruption in business’ and ‘attempts to predetermine or alter the result of a match’. The culprits involved in the case could be in serious trouble, as the word “continued” suggests that the crimes were committed over a long period of time, making the punishment worse.
Former presidents Sandro Rosell (2010–2014) and Josep Maria Bartomeu (2014–2020) are being accused of paying huge sums of money to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira in exchange for the Spaniard’s favor in several matches. If the accusations turn out to be true, the two could be looking at a sentence of up to four years. La Liga president Javier Tebas has spoken about the issue, saying that he feels “ashamed” by the case.
What is the Negreira Case?
The allegations first surfaced when the Spanish tax authorities did an inspection on DASNIL 95, a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the vice president of the Spanish football’s refereeing committee. During the investigation, they found three payments between €300,000 and €550,000 made by Barcelona. This was just the tip of the iceberg. As the investigation went on, the authorities found out payments worth €7.3 million starting from 2001 to 2018, when Negreira left his post as vice president.
The Spanish investigators did not find any proof that Negreira did anything for the money in return. President Joan Laporta recorded a video explaining everything and trying to clear his club’s name. He said that the payments were made because Negreira worked as an advisor for the club. He said that Barcelona has not done anything illegal and called the practice “very normal”.
“Let it be clear: Barca has never bought referees, and Barca has never had the intention of buying referees, absolutely never,” said Laporta.
During the time period the payments were made, Barca won ten league titles and four UEFA Champions Leagues. If they are found guilty, the club will lose all of its credibility, and it will be hard for them to earn the fans’ and the media’s trust again.