La Liga president Javier Tebas has sent a stern warning to Barcelona after they were charged with ‘continuous sporting corruption’ by Spanish prosecutors.
Barcelona are at the centre of an investigation regarding alleged payments to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s refereeing committee.
Negreira is said to have received roughly €7m from Barça between 2001 to 2018 in exchange for information and analysis of match officials which could benefit them.
Former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, along with three other members of staff, were named in the charges brought against the club, with prosecutors hinting the club attempted to fix matches with Negreira’s influence and advice.
“Through presidents Rosell and Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favouring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions,” Spanish prosecutors said.
UEFA have also confirmed they have opened an investigation into this case with a view to banning Barcelona from next season’s Champions League.
La Liga president Tebas has previously admitted that while he may be prepared to punish Barcelona if they are found guilty of wrongdoing, it would be difficult to impose sporting sanctions because these payments were supposedly made over three years ago, which is beyond the league’s threshold.
But speaking at Marca’s Sport Weekend, Tebas demanded Barcelona to explain their actions and insisted the club ‘should be worried’.
“We need explanations. If they are calm and keep the explanations to themselves, I think they should be worried. The news that is coming out, and more will continue to come out because it is inevitable. I think there should not be silence,” Tebas said.
Recent reports in Spain have claimed Barcelona are relaxed about these charges brought against them and UEFA’s independent investigation.
It has been claimed that while there may be evidence to suggest Barça did pay Negreira and his company for analysis of match officials, it will be tougher to prove this was with any intent to fix games.
Barcelona also believe UEFA will not punish them unless the courts do as any premature ban from the Champions League could lead to plenty of financial damages and further legal battles.