Barcelona have been charged with “active bribery” by the Investigative Court No. 1 of Barcelona as part of the Negreira case.
Barca are alleged to have paid former referee chief Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira for information to help them receive preferential treatment, including receiving written reports and DVDs featuring detailed analysis on referees and their behavioural patterns.
Negreira previously confirmed that he was paid for “technical advice to ensure that no controversial refereeing decisions went against Barcelona” by former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell.
The club have long refuted claims of potential match-fixing and bribery, with president Joan Laporta insisting: “The Negreira case is a campaign against Barca.
“You have to be self-critical, but it was something we inherited. Getting consultancy on refereeing is not a crime. Barca has never bought a referee, beyond the fact that perhaps we did not sufficiently value what it meant that the son of a former referee gave us advice.”
Spanish police raided the RFEF on Thursday as part of the investigation into Barcelona, and while no arrests were made they confirmed that they were acting under the orders of judge Joaquin Aguirre, who is working on the Negreira case.
In the aftermath of the raids, Spanish courts have now confirmed that Barcelona have been charged with “active bribery”. A local court document addressing the charge levied at Barca confirms that the club had been paying Negreira for information on referees for 18 years.
“The Investigative Court No. 1 of Barcelona has agreed to attribute the crime of bribery to all the people investigated so far, including FC Barcelona,” a statement read.
“Regarding the legal entity of FC Barcelona and the club directors under investigation, a continuing crime of active bribery is attributed to them.
“FC Barcelona paid through intermediary companies to one of the three vice-presidents of the Technical Committee of Referees integrated into the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Fact not denied and documented. EN [Enriquez Negreira] had the status of public official for criminal purposes given that he carried out public functions as vice-president of the CTA, those related to the qualifications of referees and the promotion and demotion of referees among others.
“The payment by FC Barcelona to EN or his son ER can be considered made based on the position held by the former, since the payments continued for approximately 18 years, increasing from the initial €70,000 to €700,000 annually; FC Barcelona ceased payment as soon as EN ceased as vice-president of the CTA.
“By logical deduction, the payments made by FC Barcelona satisfied the interests of the club based on their duration and the annual increase. From this 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.
“After being dismissed as vice-president of the CTA in mid-2018, FC Barcelona decided to dispense with the services of EN. Given this, the latter sent an intimidating letter to the former president of FC Barcelona B indicating, in essence, that if they did not continue paying, he would reveal a series of facts that could seriously harm the club.
“From the latter it can be deduced that EN was aware that quite serious illicit acts had occurred in favour of FC Barcelona. This direct knowledge by EN implied either his participation in the commission of said acts in favour of FC Barcelona, or a very close knowledge of the people who would have committed them. In short, EN was aware, to a greater or lesser extent, of the illegality of its actions and even of other acts unknown until now. “
Speaking to the press immediately after news of the charge broke, club manager Xavi Hernandez remained tight-lipped regarding the investigation, saying: “I don’t make reflections of this type. I have very little time and I need it to see what happens to the team, what has happened to us in Mallorca, the strategy, Sevilla. I don’t reflect on these issues.”