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Barcelona president Joan Laporta 'charged with suspected bribery'

Jack Kenmare

Published 
| Last updated 

Barcelona president Joan Laporta 'charged with suspected bribery'

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been charged with suspected bribery in relation to payments made to a referee, according to reports in Spain.

The Catalan club have been involved in a refereeing scandal linked with former La Liga referee Jose María Enríquez Negreira, who has previously denied favouring the Catalan club in regard to refereeing decisions.

Barca were charged with suspected bribery for payments worth more than €7 million (£6 million) made to companies linked to Negreira, but Laporta has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Back in April, the 61-year-old broke his silence over the allegations. "I already said when the ‘Negreira affair’ came out that it was no coincidence," he said in a two-hour press conference.

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"I have more information and I can now confirm that FC Barcelona has never carried out any action whose purpose or intention is to adulterate the competition in order to gain a sporting advantage."

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Laporta added: "The tax agency has not been able to demonstrate that the payments made could have affected any result. And they have not been able to demonstrate it because it was not possible.

"...This sum of money was paid over 17 years and it’s important to put things in context and the studies were carried out over a long time.

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"The person who mainly offered these services was Negreira’s son. Negreira had zero ability to select match officials or influence the outcome of games. These hypotheses that Negreira could swing games is totally false."

Months later and Laporta has now been charged with suspected bribery, according to Spanish outlet EFE, with the charges relating to his first spell in charge of Barcelona between 2003 and 2010.

Image credit: Getty
Image credit: Getty

"It is proven that the payments were made over about 18 years and that they increased year after year," judge Joaquin Aguirre said.

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"It is proven that Enriquez Negreira stopped receiving emoluments from FC Barcelona once he ceased his position as vice president of the CTA in 2018.

"It is proven that the investigated Enriquez Negreira sent a burofax (business communication) to FC Barcelona referring to the dissemination of possible irregularities of which he was aware and that would seriously affect FC Barcelona."

He added: "By logical deduction, the payments made by FC Barcelona satisfied the interests of the club in view of their duration and the annual increase. From here it is also deduced that the payments produced the arbitration effects desired by FC Barcelona, in such a way that there must have been inequality in the treatment with other teams and the consequent systemic corruption in the Spanish arbitration as a whole, which does not mean that each and every one of the referees were corrupt, but it did mean that a group of them."

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy
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Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Barcelona, La Liga, Joan Laporta, Spain

Jack Kenmare
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