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Real Madrid will take legal action against Barcelona on allegations of bribery of referees in defense of its interests


Spanish club Barcelona © Reuters

Real Madrid, the giants of the Spanish Football League, announced on Sunday, March 12, 2023, that it will join a complaint filed by Spanish prosecutors against Barcelona and two of its former bosses over alleged payments to a company owned by a senior official in the refereeing committee to influence the results of matches.

Real Madrid, the Spanish and European champions, called an emergency meeting of its board of directors to discuss alleged attempts by its rivals to influence the referees and decided to take legal action over what it described as “serious accusations” by prosecutors.

Real Madrid said in a statement, “Real Madrid expresses its deep concern about the seriousness of the facts and affirms its full confidence in the work of the judiciary and has agreed to join the lawsuit as soon as the judge considers the case, in defense of its legitimate interests.”

The allegations indicate that Barcelona paid more than 7.3 million euros ($7.8 million) between 2001 and 2018 to companies owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negrera, who was vice-chairman of the Spanish Football Federation’s Referees Committee from 1993 to 2018. Prosecutors allege that under A secret agreement and “in return for money”, Negrira complimented Barcelona “in the decisions taken by the referees in the matches played by the club, as well as in the results of the tournaments.”

A senior Barcelona official said on Friday 10 March that the club had anticipated the complaint but said it was “no more than the premise of a preliminary investigation” by prosecutors. “The club will cooperate fully with the investigation by all means necessary,” the official added, “and reiterate that they did not buy any referee’s responsibility and did not try to influence any referee’s decisions.”

In a statement last month, the club denied any wrongdoing, saying it had simply paid an outside consultant who provided it with “technical reports on professional arbitration”, describing it as “common practice among professional football clubs”.

The complaint focuses on €2.9m paid between 2014 and 2018 and alleges that Barcelona, ​​with the help of former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, reached a “confidential verbal agreement” with Negrera.

The complaint accuses the club’s management, in addition to Rosell, Bartomeu, Negrera and two former Barcelona officials, of corruption in sports, unfair management and tampering with commercial documents.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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