Barcelona takes refuge in silence. And it does not do so because there is no one in the club to speak, but because there is still no explanation that justifies the 7.3 million euros that the Catalan entity paid to the former referee José María Enríquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018 and under the leadership of four presidents (Joan Gaspart, Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu). While Laporta has gone from a more defensive attitude – “They are promoting a reputational campaign against Barça”, he complained, from the outset – to a more belligerent one – “I want to confront all the scoundrels who are staining our shield”, he exposed before of the classic–, the public burden at Barça always falls on the coach. He happened to Ronald Koeman with the Barçagate scandal and now it happens to Xavi Hernández. “What the president says goes to mass. I don’t want to talk about that topic. I focus on football ”, the Barça coach defended himself, from the outset, in the preview of the classic. He could not. As much as he tried, Xavi, a former Barcelona player (1998-2015), ended up talking about the Negreira Case.
“It doesn’t bother me. People can comment what they want. I know we won lawfully. I never felt that we won because of the referees. If that had been the case, I would have gone home. I don’t want them to harm me, but I don’t want them to help me, ”remarked Xavi, who won 25 titles with Barcelona during his time as a player. The problem for Barcelona is that while the press conference in which they will report on the external audit commissioned is not held and Laporta is committed to a more combative way, Xavi and the players remain on target.
“With all the hostility that we live in Bilbao… away from home it will be something similar to that in all the games. We have to close in on ourselves. Be airtight. Thinking about football and the opponent he plays”, said Xavi. And, when they questioned how he copes with the locker room, all the noise over the Negreira Case, he resolved: “Naturally. We have not talked about the Negreira Case. We focus on playing. We try to be natural with them, abstract ourselves. I haven’t had to do anything different since the beginning of the season”.
Laporta insisted that Barça is the victim of a campaign. “It is not by chance, you all know it. Its objective is to destabilize the team in the short term and to control Barça in the medium term, to keep it”, the president stated. It does not change the strategy club. However, the lack of response is not exclusive to the communication department. Before the Tax Agency and the Prosecutor’s Office, the legal representatives of Barcelona assumed that the club did not have any contract or documentation that endorsed the services allegedly provided by Negreira. “It cannot be affirmed who, on the part of the FCB, was responsible for commissioning the services,” Barça stated, according to one of the documents that appear in the judicial investigation, whose content EL PAÍS has had access to.
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