FC Barcelona referee bribery case charges explained, likely punishment and latest update

FC Barcelona referee bribery case charges explained, likely punishment and latest update

The formal investigation starts against FC Barcelona for bribery in the Negreira referee case and the club could face Champions League exit as a punishment

According to Joaquin Aguirre, the judge at Barcelona Court of Instruction Number One, the 7.5 million euros paid by Barcelona over 17 years to former vice-president of refereeing Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira may have been against the law.

FC Barcelona referee bribery case charges explained, likely punishment and latest update news

According to a court document that has been viewed by numerous sources, the Catalans are under suspicion for the “sustained crime of active bribery.” The investigation was launched after Barcelona was charged with corruption for allegedly paying José Mara Enrquez Negreira, a former vice president of the referees committee.

Between 2001 and 2018, Barca paid Negreira’s businesses a total of €7.5 million ($7.9 million). This coincides with current president Joan Laporta’s first term in office, however Laporta has often asserted that the payments were legitimate compensation for consultancy work.

The Catalans were accused of “continued corruption between individuals in the sports field” by the Barcelona provincial prosecutor’s office in March, which prompted UEFAEFA to launch its own investigation, a report by Forbes suggests.

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Prior to this, Barça was accused of fraud, falsifying business records, unscrupulous business practises, and sports corruption. The Royal Spanish Football Federation [RFEF]’s officiating committee headquarters were searched by Spanish police for evidence related to the investigation on Thursday in Madrid. According to the Police, they have not made any arrests and are carrying out the directives of Judge Joaquin Aguirre, who is conducting the investigation.

In March, a Spanish court launched an investigation after accepting a charge filed by prosecutors against Barça, their former presidents, and the Negreiras. Between 2001 and 2018, while he served as the vice president of the refereeing committee, Barça paid Negreira’s businesses more than €7 million.

Can FC Barcelona be suspended from UEFA Champions League?

The provincial prosecutor’s office in Barcelona filed charges against Barca in March for “continued corruption between individuals in the sports field.” Due to that, UEFA launched its own investigation, and after Barca won La Liga the previous season, they were given temporary permission to compete in the UEFA Champions League. The governing board warned the club in July that, if found guilty, they might be banned from the competition for up to a year.

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While a complaint has been filed against Barca, the court has not decided whether to take up the case and the club would be fined if found guilty, and the individuals involved could face up to four years in jail.

The only sporting punishment that can be meted out to the club will come from UEFA and the European football body could refuse to permit them to play in the Champions League the season after being found guilty.

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However, they consider the case a domestic affair, and a ban would be effected at the request of the Spanish Football Federation.

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