Barcelona Referee Scandal Labelled a “Ferocious” Smear Campaign by Club President Joan Laporta

Barcelona Referee Scandal
Barcelona Referee Scandal

The unfolding Barcelona referee scandal has been publicly blasted by club president Joan Laporta, who labelled the allegations as a “ferocious attack.”

Prosecutors put forward a case of corruption in February involving the current La Liga leaders, in which they are alleged to have paid Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, the sum of £7.4m between 2001 and 2018.

Although any wrongdoings were likely overseen by former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu, both of whom can be directly linked to the club’s current financial shortcomings.

However, La Liga chief executive Javier Tebas said that if Joan Laporta and the club are unable to explain why the payments were made, he should relinquish his role as president.

The Blaugrana have maintained their innocence throughout the investigation, citing a habitual practice among Spanish clubs for “an external technical consultant,” used to create educational video reports for players and officials.

After publicly denying any wrongdoing two months ago, Laporta has again expressed his anger in a recent interview. He said: “This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history.

“I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later it is fully exonerated.

“I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defence of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model, which is that of a club owned by all of its members.”

UEFA are also said to be investigating the Barcelona referee scandal following the slew of payments made over a 17-year period, after a Spanish court heard charges of false business records and corruption earlier this year.

The Barca president went on to reveal the club are prepared to prove their total innocence, and have put together a paper trail containing documents related to payments for Negreira’s services.

“Some services were provided,” he said.

“They were documented. There were invoices, payments registered in the accounting books. There was no crime of corruption.”

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