Spanish soccer club Barcelona is being investigated by UEFA over payments made to a former vice president of the refereeing committee in Spain, per ESPN.
The team stands accused of making payments totaling over €7 million to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira between 2001-2018 in exchange for favorable treatment.
Fans have long speculated about Barca possibly being in league with match officials as the club has gotten a lot to go their way over the years. Their Champions League semi-final match against English side Chelsea in 2009 stands out as one of the most questionable, with the Premier League outfit denied multiple clear penalties before conceding a late goal that knocked them out of the competition.
Fans even resorted to branding the Primera Liga team “UEFAlona” at one point.
Barcelona has denied wrongdoing with claims that Negreira was paid as a consultant who provided “technical reports on refereeing.” They insist they never “bought referees or influence.”
La Liga remains powerless to act against Barca due to the statute of limitations in Spain but UEFA is under no such restraint.
“In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors have been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework by Barcelona in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira,'” a statement from the European governing body reads, promising additional information in due course.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has indicated that he doesn’t believe Barca paid any refs off but has urged the club’s president, Joan Laporta, to clear up what’s considered the “biggest reputational crisis” in the league’s history.
Meanwhile, Laporta maintains the many reports detailing Barcelona’s alleged corruption are part of a smear campaign.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.