Barcelona charged with corruption over payments to former referees’ official

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Barcelona have been charged with corruption over payments the club made to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, a former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee. Last month it emerged that Barca have paid Negreira and a company he owns a reported total of 8.4m euros (£7.4m) between 2001 and 2018.

A Barcelona court heard on Friday that Barca, former club officials and Negreira had been indicted for “corruption”, “breach of trust” and “false business records”. These lawsuits, brought by the Barcelona public prosecutor’s office, target the club, as well as former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell.

La Liga chief executive Javier Tebas said last month that current president Joan Laporta should resign if he was unable to explain the payments. Laporta responded by saying he will not give Tebas “what he’d like by stepping down” and the charges come three days after Laporta insisted his club had “never bought referees”.

“Let it be clear Barca have never bought referees and Barca have never had the intention of buying referees, absolutely never,” he said on Tuesday.

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