Barcelona has received a boost in their ongoing legal battle against charges of “continuous sporting corruption.”
The Spanish prosecutors have filed charges against the club and two former presidents, Sandro Rosell, and Josep Maria Bartomeu, in relation to the Negreira scandal.
The charges allege that Barcelona paid €8 million to former vice-president of Spain’s refereeing committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, from 2001 to 2018, in exchange for detailed information and analysis on match officials, hoping to gain an extra advantage.
The club is also accused of trying to influence decisions in games and in the appointments of referees, which qualifies as match-fixing.
Reports emerged over the weekend that Barcelona could face being barred from entering the UEFA Champions League due to these charges. However, according to Spanish newspaper Marca, there is currently no evidence proving that Barcelona directly paid active referees or influenced their appointments.
While there is proof of Barcelona falsifying commercial documents and carrying out “unfair administration,” it is unlikely that they will be sanctioned if there is no evidence of impacting referees and their decisions first-hand.
Meanwhile, their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, announced that they will hold an urgent meeting to discuss the Negreira case and what appropriate action they could take.
Real Madrid has been vocal about accusations of Barcelona receiving advantages from match officials in recent years.
The Negreira scandal has rocked Spanish football, and the outcome of the investigation could have far-reaching consequences for both Barcelona and Spanish football.
If found guilty, Barcelona could face significant sanctions, including fines and a ban from competitions, which could damage their reputation and financial status.