HomeScience & TechCaso Negreira: Inside the payments, gifts and conversations between Barcelona and Negreira

Caso Negreira: Inside the payments, gifts and conversations between Barcelona and Negreira

The Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona

The investigation continues over the relationship between Football Club Barcelona and former vice president of Spain’s Technical Committee of Referees, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. Former club officials and Negreira himself have now appeared before investigators to give their statements about the true nature of their business transactions, but it seems that there are still a lot of grey areas.

Barcelona is accused of corruption

To begin with, Negreira is being investigated for a separate case in relation to his taxes. It is through this case that the payments that were made to him by FC Barcelona over a number of years were discovered by authorities.

Because of the discovery, the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office decided to pursue a case over possible corruption on the part of the club. The aim is to determine the real nature of the relationship between the club and the former technical official which lasted for more than a decade, during which time an estimated amount of up to 6.6m euros (ÂŁ5.9m) was earned by Negreira through his company, Dasnil 95.

Negreira has been accused of giving other referees luxurious gifts

According to the investigation, Negreira would habitually give luxurious gifts to fellow referees during the time when he was still the vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees. Some of the items that his colleagues received from him reportedly include gourmet meals at Barcelona’s top restaurants, expensive hams, alcohol, sweets, lottery tickets, referee cards, and football tickets.

In the year 2016 alone, which is one of the years wherein he received payments from Barcelona, Negreira shelled out approximately €10k (£8.8k) for such gifts. He charged these expenses to the account of Dasnil 95, which was where he was also being paid by the club.

However, a concrete connection between Barcelona’s payments and these expenses has yet to be established. According to Negreira, those were not bribes and some items, such as the football tickets were paid back by the recipients.

Negreira speaks up about his relationship with Barcelona’s former officials

Mundo Deportivo has gained access to the transcripts of the statements made by Negreira himself as well as a number of former FC Barcelona officials. The former referee named former club club presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell as his main points of contact at the Camp Nou. However, his interactions with them were limited, saying that they only met approximately six times a year.

This is were the confusion persists. Negreira as well as the Barcelona officials all claim that the payments were being made to ensure that Barcelona was being treated fairly on the pitch. The club is said to be keen on making sure that they receive “neutral treatment” from referees during matches.

When asked about what he was doing for the club, he said: “Going to watch the matches (in person or through fellow ex-referees) and being informed of why decisions had been made. FĂștbol Club Barcelona considered that the team was harmed and other teams were favored (this is a personal hypothesis, no one has told me directly). My obligation was to give my opinion on the matches in terms of arbitration and the players. Technical advice. What FĂștbol Club Barcelona wanted was to make sure that no decisions were made against it, that everything was neutral.”

Apart from Barcelona’s own matches, Negreira was also tasked to follow the matches of other rival clubs such as Real Madrid. However, how exactly this neutral treatment would be guaranteed by Negreira is unclear. Likewise, he admitted that there are no documents or written reports that could show the advice that he had been giving the club. With meetings taking place only about six times a year, more questions are being asked about what exactly Barcelona was paying for. To this, Negreira said that the club was making payments and were simply assured that they were receiving neutral treatment by officials.

Josep Maria Bartomeu
Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu

Barcelona officials wash their hands clean

Josep Maria Bartomeu also gave a statement to investigators and claimed that he did not have extensive knowledge about the transactions between the club and Negreira himself. Instead, an excerpt from his testimony read: “He was informed that Javier EnrĂ­quez (Negreira’s son) did some services for the club consisting of refereeing reports and analysis of matches and on occasions, he gave arbitration talks at La Masia. It is a service that has been carried out since the time of (former club presidents) Laporta and Gaspart.”

Bartomeu also claimed that he thought the services they were paying for were rendered by Javier, and did not know of payments being made to his father, who was then a technical official. He then confirmed that the club ended the dealings with Negreira and his son in 2018 as a cost-cutting measure.

Meanwhile, Former CEO Oscar Grau claimed he was unaware of the relationship with Negreira until 2018, when the club had decided to stop making the payments. Former director Albert Soler also distanced the club from Negreira, saying that he only dealt with Negreira’s son. However, evidence has emerged that Soler had sent messages to Negreira wherein he was complaining about officiating during a Barcelona match against Atletico de Madrid.

The referee in charge was Jesus Gil Manzano, and Negreira pointed out that most of the decisions taken were in favour of the Catalans save for a card against defender Sergio Busquets.

A secret letter emerges

While the statements from both sides are still in tangles, Mundo Deportivo has revealed that another mysterious element has surfaced. During the course of the investigation, a letter was reportedly found in a safe owned by former Barcelona Director Josep Contreras who is now deceased. The letter is said to have come with a warning that it should be opened only “in case of the biggest disgrace in the world for us comes out.”

The actual contents of the letter remain a mystery for now, but Spanish media are claiming that it has a number of names and bank accounts. It seems that there are now more questions than answers as the investigators continue to uncover evidence. The saga continues and it remains to be seen if the prosecutors will be able to prove any crimes.

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