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Barcelona May Face Relegation Following $1.5 Million Referee Bribery Allegations

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FC Barcelona could face extreme punishment such as being relegated from La Liga or having points docked after they were accused of bribery by paying the former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, €1.4mn ($1.5mn) during the rule of former president Josep Bartomeu.

Negreira held his role at the Royal Spanish Football Federation from 1994 to 2018. From 2016 to 2018, the Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office alleges, Barca paid the amount to a company he owned named DASNIL 95.

As explained by the SER Catalunya radio program Que t’hi jugues on Wednesday afternoon, Negreira, who was once a La Liga referee, received €532,728.02 ($571,000) in 2016, €541,752 ($580,000) in 2017, and then finally €318,200 ($341,000) in 2018 through DASNIL 95.

When testifying before the Prosecutor’s Office, Negreira and his son have denied that Barca ever received any preferential treatment as per refereeing decisions.

They claim that the money was paid due to advisory work that Negreira carried out on how players should behave towards referees, and he also gave tips on what they can or cannot do depending on which official was refereeing a certain match.

Thus far, however, Negreira has reportedly been unable to produce any document that proves he provided these types of services for FC Barcelona.

The club has reacted to the revelation through a statement. It admitted that it had hired the services of an ‘external technical consultant’, but denied any wrongdoing while also lamenting that the news has come at a time when Barca are back on their feet as La Liga leaders by some 11 points.

Should it be proven that Barca have done wrong, though, they could be made an example of during a period when they are currently at loggerheads with La Liga president Javier Tebas over their support for a breakway European Super League in alliance with bitter rivals Real Madrid.

When the other remaining club backing the ESL, Juventus, was found guilty of bribing referees in a 2006 match fixing scandal, it was relegated to the Serie B and took years to regain its standing at the top of the Italian football elite.

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