Last Updated: February 22, 2023, 10:53 IST
Barcelona’s head coach Xavi Hernandez talks to a referee (AP)
Barcelona paid around 7 million euros to a consultancy owned by Jose Maria Negreira, a former referee and also the former vice-president of the referees technical committee
The controversy over money paid to a former referee by FC Barcelona continues to increase in Spain in a case that is quickly becoming known as “Barcagate.”
“Barcagate” came to light last week when it was revealed that FC Barcelona had paid around 7 million euros to a consultancy owned by Jose Maria Negreira, a former referee and also the former vice-president of the referees technical committee.
This money was supposedly paid for reports on referees and youth team players at other clubs, but former Barca coach Ernesto Valverde (now at Athletic Club Bilbao) on Saturday told the press he had never seen any reports during his two and a half years at the club, while Jorge Patasso, the assistant to Tata Martino in the 2013-14 season, said they never saw any reports either.
An attempt by the 42 La Liga clubs in first and second divisions to release a joint communique expressing concern over the case, was thwarted when both Barca and Real Madrid refused to sign it. Nevertheless, the 14 clubs that make up La Liga’s Delegate Committee on Tuesday did release a communique expressing the “maximum seriousness” and “deep worry” about the revelations, which many believe could have led to Barca having favorable refereeing decisions for a period between 2001-2018.
La Liga president Javier Tebas said on Monday that if current Barca president Joan Laporta, who was also president for the period 2003-2010, before returning in 2021, was “unable to give explanations” for the payments, “he should resign.”
Laporta responded in a press conference on Tuesday in which he insisted that during his first mandate, Negreira’s services were “billed and those bills had the documental and video support that corresponded to them”, a Xinhua report said.
Laporta then launched into an attack on Tebas, saying the La Liga president had “shown his anti-Barcelonism, his phobia and his obsession against Barca.”
“He has a track record of an obsession with Barca,” said Laporta of Tebas, adding that he would “not give him the satisfaction” of resigning.
To further complicate matters, lawyers representing Negreira said he is suffering the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and would be unable to testify.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)
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