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Prosecutors file formal complaint against Barcelona for £6.4m over corruption allegations



Spanish prosecutors have filed a complaint against Barcelona and two of the LaLiga club’s former presidents over alleged payments to a company owned by a top refereeing official to influence match results, the prosecution said on Friday.

A judge has yet to decide whether to hear the case.

The club are said to have paid more than €7.3m (£6.4m) between 2001 and 2018 to companies owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who served as vice-chairman of the Arbitration Committee of the Spanish Football Association from 1993 to 2018.

Prosecutors claim that under a secret agreement and ‘in exchange for money’, Negreira favored Barcelona ‘in decisions made by referees in matches played by the club, as well as in the results of competitions’.

Barcelona did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

The club denied any wrongdoing in a statement last month, saying it had simply paid an outside consultant who provided it with “technical reports relating to professional refereeing”, calling it “common practice among clubs in professional football”.

The complaint relates to the €2.9m (£2.5m) paid between 2014 and 2018 and alleges that Barcelona – with the help of former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu – reached an “agreement Confidential Verbal” with Negreira.

He accuses the club, Rosell, Bartomeu, Negreira and two other former Barcelona officials of corruption in sport, unfair administration and lying in commercial documents.

The investigation was triggered by a tax audit. Negreira told the Spanish tax agency that Barcelona’s aim with the payments was to have ‘neutral’ referees in their matches, according to El Pais newspaper.

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