The judge admits the prosecution’s complaint and orders the Civil Guard to find out the “reason” for Barça’s payments to Negreira | Sports

Former referee José María Enríquez Negreira, in the center, in a file photo.
Former referee José María Enríquez Negreira, in the center, in a file photo.Luis Magan

The legal investigation against FC Barcelona for the Negreira case it’s already running. The magistrate Silvia López has admitted to process the complaint of the Prosecutor’s Office against the Barcelona club for a crime of corruption in the sports field and, also, the complaint filed by a VAR referee against the former referee José María Enríquez Negreira and the son of he, Javier Enriquez. In an order released by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), the magistrate orders the Civil Guard to “carry out the necessary steps to determine the reason or work” for which Barça paid 7.3 million euros to Negreira between 2001 and 2018 and, also, what was the “destination” of the money collected by the companies of the former vice president of the Technical Arbitration Committee (CTA).

The order of admission to procedure supposes the starting signal of the instruction. In May 2022, the Prosecutor’s Office began the investigation after receiving a notice from the Tax Agency about the payments from the Barça club to Negreira that, presumably, did not respond to any real work. In his statement before the Treasury, the former referee said that Barça paid him to ensure “neutral” arbitrations. By order of the Prosecutor’s Office, the National Police Force took statements from witnesses and those investigated (such as former president Josep Maria Bartomeu) but had to put an end to the proceedings when —after Cadena Ser uncovered the payment scandal— an arbitrator del VAR denounced Negreira and his son before the courts.

The VAR referee’s complaint fell to the Examining Court Number 1 of Barcelona, ​​whose owner is Joaquín Aguirre. The magistrate investigates a matter of great complexity —the Voloh case, on alleged corruption around the independence process- and a reinforcement magistrate was assigned to him, the veteran Silvia López, who has issued the order for admission to processing of the complaint and also of the complaint that, on Friday, the Prosecutor’s Office formalized. This complaint accuses Barça of a continuous crime of corruption in the sports field for unjustified payments to Negreira. The club, according to the thesis of the accusation, tried to get the former manager to “favor” him in the matches and thus alter the results of the competitions. The complaint is also directed against the former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu for corruption in sport, but also for unfair administration and false commercial documents.

The order reproduces the content of the complaint of the VAR referee and the complaint of the Prosecutor’s Office. The judge sees it as “appropriate” to carry out a patrimonial investigation on Negreira “and her close environment”. Despite the hefty salaries that Barça paid him, no increase in his assets has been appreciated. According to sources of the investigation, the former referee and several collaborators withdrew large sums of money in cash. The magistrate also orders the Civil Guard, as requested by the Prosecutor’s Office, “to find out the identity of those who held the positions of general director, CEO or financial director” in the Rosell stage, between 2011 and 2014.

Once this first investigation is concluded, adds the judge, it will be time to take a statement from those investigated (Rosell, Bartomeu and two managers from the latter’s stage as president) and also from the witnesses proposed by the Prosecutor’s Office. Among them are mentioned the president of Barça Joan Laporta, the former president Joan Gaspart or the former coaches of the club Luis Enrique Martínez and Ernesto Valverde. In her order, the judge also admits the appearance of the Professional Soccer League as a private prosecution in the case.

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