FC Barcelona has categorically rejected the allegations in the “Negreira case”. At a specially convened press conference on Monday, Barca president Joan Laporta presented the results of an investigation commissioned by the club – and lashed out at Real Madrid’s senior management.
FC Barcelona sees itself as a major victim of a discrediting campaign. The Spanish league leaders are accused by the public prosecutor’s office of having paid around 7.3 million euros to the company of former referee boss José María Enríquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018 in order to buy advantages in refereeing decisions. The club always claimed to have paid the money only for consulting services.
On Monday afternoon, Barcelona President Joan Laporta reiterated that the allegations were unfounded.
Through the investigation commissioned by the club, he could “confirm that FC Barcelona never carried out any action with the aim or intention of distorting the competition or to gain a sporting advantage. The tax office could not prove that the payments could have affected any sporting outcome”.
Barca boss deals against Real Madrid
Laporta also went into attack mode: “FC Barcelona is the victim of a gigantic character assassination campaign, which is being carried out with the help of defamatory allegations. In its 125-year history, Barca has been a role model for fair play on and off the pitch. Barca is a club that Values united,” said Laporta: “We want to win by playing well and not with the help of referees.”
There are “opponents who try to destroy our image and our prestige, but they have never succeeded and they will never succeed,” the Barcelona boss added – referring above all to arch-rivals Real Madrid, who ” to safeguard legitimate interests” actively involved in the procedure.
Laporta fumed: “There is one club that feels unfairly treated. Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club historically and currently favored by refereeing errors.” For 70 years, the Presidents of the Referees Committee have been “former members, former players or former managers of Real Madrid”. The fact that Real Madrid have now made allegations against FC Barcelona is an “example of unrivaled cynicism”.
Not only Real Madrid was targeted by the Barca boss, LaLiga boss Javier Tebas was also attacked by Joan Laporta. Tebas had spoken publicly about the possibility that Barcelona wanted to influence the referees with the millions in payments. “With his constant statements, he has fueled the controversy and provided the prosecutor with false documents,” Laporta rumbled. “I urge him to end his verbal incontinence because he is doing the institution he represents a disservice.”