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Barcelona in Hot Water Over Payments to Ref Consultant

  • Barcelona paid a firm part-owned by a member of La Liga's refereeing committee from 2016 to 2018.
  • The club has claimed no wrongdoing regarding the relationship.
FC Barcelona players stand together on the field before a La Liga match.
FC Barcelona
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The relationship between FC Barcelona and a consulting company has raised suspicions that the team was bribing referees.

The iconic La Liga club was revealed to have paid around $1.5 million from 2016-2018 to DASNIL 95 SL, a firm part-owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who was on La Liga’s refereeing committee at the time. The revelation came out on the “Que T’hi Jugues” show on radio station SER Catalunya.

Barcelona acknowledged the payments, saying they were for video reviews of young players on other clubs and consulting on officiating.

Team president Joan Laporta suggested that the practice is common among soccer teams and that the revelation is coming out because Barca is in first place in La Liga.

Negreira claimed in Spanish court that he didn’t influence how referees called games — and that he merely advised Barcelona on how to behave around specific referees.

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Negreira was vice president of La Liga’s Technical Committee of Referees until 2018. Josep Maria Bartomeu was president of Barcelona at the time, but stepped down in 2020 amid tax fraud allegations.

Barcelona had a 78-game streak, ending in 2018, in which opposing teams were not awarded a penalty kick — Barca was given at least 32 penalty kicks during that period. The club also had a stretch of at least 28 games in which players weren’t given a single red card.

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