The European football association UEFA is opening an investigation into the bribery scandal surrounding FC Barcelona, known in Spain as ‘caso Negreira‘. Inspectors have been appointed to investigate whether €7.3 million have indeed been paid to get benefits from referees.
The football club from Catalonia is said to have paid the former vice president of the referee commission in Spain to gain an advantage in certain matches. This former vice president is José María Enríquez Negreira, hence the term ‘caso Negreira’.
Inspectors check whether Barca has broken the rules
UEFA released a short statement on Thursday evening saying that “inspectors have been appointed to see if there has been any breach of the rules”. In its statement, UEFA referred to Article 31(4) in the rules of the European Football Association. UEFA says it will soon provide more details.
More than 7.3 million euros in companies of former vice-chairman
For some time now, the eyes have been on FC Barcelona and the suspicion of a bribery scandal. A total of just over €7.3 million was been paid to companies that are all linked to José María Enríquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018.
The Catalan club does confirm that several payments have been made during this period, but that it concerned “obtaining external advice”. The last payment to Negreira was made in 2018. This was also the year he stepped down as Vice President of the Spanish Referees’ Federation. Despite this statement, Justice in Spain suspects it to be bribery and therefore decided to charge FC Barcelona.
Rival Real Madrid supports UEFA complaint
After this indictment, and the support it received from rivals Real Madrid, among others, eyes were on what UEFA would do. Attempts have already been made to take action within the Spanish football association, La Liga, but this association ran into a three-year statute of limitations. Yet the allegations are so serious that the highest football body in Europe has decided to launch an investigation.