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Prosecutors Investigating Barcelona Over Ref Bribery Allegations

  • Barcelona and its former president are now subject to a probe by Spanish prosecutors regarding referee bribery allegations.
  • Its current and other former presidents will be summoned as witnesses.
A view of the FC Barcelona stadium
FC Barcelona

The Barcelona referee scandal isn’t going away anytime soon. 

Spanish prosecutors have expanded the purview of the case to involve not just the refereeing official Barca is accused of bribing, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, but also the team itself and former president Josep Maria Bartomeu. 

Former presidents Joan Gaspart and Sandro Rosell, as well as current president Joan Laporta, will be summoned as witnesses. However, they can’t face charges due to expired statutes of limitations.

Laporta, who ran the club from 2003-10, took over again in 2020, when Bartomeu resigned amid tax fraud allegations.

Real Madrid defender Ferland Mendy kicks the ball ahead of Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele.
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Barca paid Negreira’s firm at least $7.4 million for referee consulting and other services from 2001-18. Both the team and Negreira have denied that the payments were to influence refereeing. Negreira sat on La Liga’s refereeing committee until 2018. 

Last month, it was revealed that Spanish referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez filed a criminal lawsuit against Negreira and his son, alleging sporting fraud.

Barcelona enjoyed a 78-game streak, ending in 2018, in which opposing teams were not awarded a single penalty kick — though Barca was given at least 32 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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