FC Barcelona, shaken for two months by an arbitration scandal, has “never done anything to obtain a sporting advantage”, assured Monday its president Joan Laporta, denouncing a “campaign of denigration” against the Catalan club .
Barça never had “the final objective or the intention to distort the competition”, declared the Catalan leader during a press conference devoted to the role of FC Barcelona in a case of payments to a former senior referee official.
The club “did not have the capacity to appoint referees” and was therefore unable to “modify sporting results”, insisted Mr Laporta.
FC Barcelona has been in turmoil since the revelation in early February by the Spanish media of suspicious money payments made to companies owned by the former No.2 in Spanish arbitration, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.
These revelations led the Spanish courts to indict the Catalan club and its former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu (2014-2020) and Sandro Rosell (2010-2014) in mid-March for “corruption between individuals in the sports sector”, “breach of trust ” and “false in trade records”.
According to the prosecution, the Catalan club would have paid more than 7.3 million euros to Mr. Negreira between 2001 and 2018, in exchange for advice on arbitration matters. These payments would have been interrupted when Mr. Negreira left his post in the Spanish Technical Arbitral Committee (CTA).
Barça “has concluded and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement” with Negreira “so that in his capacity as vice-president of the CTA and in exchange for money, he carries out actions tending to favor the FCB (…) and therefore in the results of the competitions”, assured the prosecution in a court document.
Charges dismissed on Monday by Joan Laporta, for whom the prosecution “was not able to demonstrate that the payments made to the companies” owned by Mr. Negreira “could have influenced the referees or the result of any match whatsoever” .
“They couldn’t demonstrate it because it wasn’t possible,” insisted the Barça president, assuring that the services for which the club made payments were legal and documented. “There was no corruption offence,” he insisted.
The president of FC Barcelona had already assured Sunday at an assembly of Barça fan clubs that justice had “nothing” against Barça in this case.