Barcelona president Joan Laporta charged with allegedly bribing referees as judge slams 'corruption' | The Sun10/18/2023
BARCELONA PRESIDENT Joan Laporta has been charged with allegedly bribing referees.
The shock news emerged this morning through EFE that the judge in the case, which is known as "Caso Negreire" in Spain, has decided to indict the 61-year-old.
He is accused of bribery, sports corruption, unfair administration and forgery in a commercial document.
Laporta has had two reigns as the LaLiga side’s president, the first of which between 2003 and 2010 saw Barcelona set a new record for trophies won in a 12-month period with six.
He returned to the top job in October 2020.
The Caso Negreira case involves the payment of around £6.3million to ex vice-president of the technical committee of referees Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira and his son.
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The payments, which were over an 18-year period, are being investigated.
It comes after Barcelona were charged with “continued corruption in the sports field” in April when Uefa began their investigation.
They allowed the Catalans, who are managed by the legendary Xavi, to compete in this season’s edition of the Champions League despite the alleged scandal.
However, they reserved the right to administer further punishment should further evidence be discovered.
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The judge overseeing the case, Judge Joaquin Aguirre, recommended last month that the charge of continued corruption in the sports field should be switched to bribery.
That was due to Negreira being a public figure at the time, according to a court order that was published by Spanish publication El Correo.
Sandro Rossell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, both former presidents of Barcelona, and two ex-club officials have been accused of bribery, sports corruption, unfair administration and forgery in a commercial document.
El Periodico also claims they have accessed the court order and it details how Aguirre has agreed to indict Laporta for the same crimes.
That was after he decided that payments made from the Barca chief to Negreira from 2008 to 2010 constitute “continued bribery”.
Aguirre has allegedly decided that Laporta and the rest of the board from that period played “an effective responsibility in making the decision to make the allegedly illicit payments”.
In his order, Aguirre says the payments to Enriquez “produced the arbitration effects desired by FC Barcelona, in such a way that there must have been inequality in the treatment with other teams and the consequent systemic corruption in the Spanish arbitration as a whole, which does not mean that each and every one of the referees were corrupt, but a group of them were.”
It has also been deemed that the 10-year statute of limitations has not expired as they insist it should be counted from July 17, 2018 onwards – the date when the alleged last crime was committed.
Laporta has denied any wrongdoing from Barcelona in the past and claimed that the payments were made for consultation work.
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Neither he nor the club have yet to respond to these latest charges reported earlier.
The news could not have come at a worse time for the club as they prepare to face bitter rivals Real Madrid this weekend in El Clasico.
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