The revelations are multiplying, Friday, February 17, in Spain around the investigation into the possible fraudulent payments of several million euros made by FC Barcelona to a former referee of the federation.
New information from the Spanish daily El Mundo shook FC Barcelona again overnight from Thursday to Friday, just after the draw (2-2) conceded by Xavi's players at Camp Nou against Manchester United in the Europa League.
According to the Spanish newspaper, FC Barcelona has paid more than 6 million euros (6,659,488 euros) since 2001 to José Maria Enriquez Negreira, number two in Spanish arbitration between 1994 and 2018, to advise the club on arbitration matters. . An amount well above the 1.4 million euros announced so far by the Spanish media.
And when the Spanish Technical Arbitral Committee (CTA) was dismembered and restructured in 2018, and Barça decided to stop payments, Mr. Negreira, dismissed from his position in the federation, sent a fax to the club Catalan, on February 5, 2019, to threaten to reveal a "scandal", according to El Mundo.
The online investigative media El Confidencial for its part revealed on Friday that two other companies are in the sights of the Spanish justice in this case: one (Soccercam SL) belonging to the son of Negreira, and the other (Tresep 2014 SL) to Josep Contreras Arjona, a former Barca manager, whose business was allegedly used to funnel payments to the former referee.
"If I saw that we were winning by cheating, I would go home," Xavi reacted Thursday evening in a post-match press conference.
A "common practice"
It all started on Wednesday, when Spanish radio Cadena Ser revealed that the Spanish prosecutor's office had been investigating for several months the company of a former leader of a Spanish referees committee who allegedly received 1.4 million between 2016 and 2018. euros from FC Barcelona, for an alleged offense of private corruption. According to Cadena Ser, the investigation would have started after the identification by the Spanish tax authorities of irregularities in the taxes paid by the company Dasnil 95, owned by José Maria Enriquez Negreira.
The former referee denied any favor done to the Blaugrana club. His duties, he told reporters, were limited to providing mostly verbal advice on matters such as the behavior of players in front of referees.
After these revelations, Wednesday afternoon, FC Barcelona immediately reacted with a press release. Without naming Dasnil 95 directly, the Catalan club explained that it had in the past a contract binding it to an "external supplier" from which it received, among other things, "technical reports related to professional arbitration", a "practice common in professional football clubs". Currently, this task falls to "a professional in the football industry", the club added.
According to Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of Barça between 2014 and 2020, the club had decided to do without the services of this company after the restructuring of the CTA in 2018, in order to save money.
On Thursday, the Integrity Department of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued a statement in which it announced that it would require "information" from the former RFEF and Barça referees to take the "corresponding measures".
La Liga, the body that manages professional football in Spain, also reacted through its president, Javier Tebas: "We have already checked, and it is impossible that there are sporting disciplinary sanctions" against FC Barcelona, because "the statute of limitations for this type of sanction is three years", and five years have passed since the facts.
If the Spanish public prosecutor's office opens a trial, "we will have to present ourselves as a private prosecutor. And if there's no trial, it'll all be shelved." "Ethically and for our image, this kind of thing cannot happen in Spanish football," Tebas added.