Did FC Barça buy referees?
On 16 February it emerged that the public prosecutor’s office in Barcelona has been investigating FC Barcelona for several months. Between 1994 and 2018 the club allegedly paid high sums to José María Enríquez Negreira, former vice-president of the Spanish Football Federation’s referee’s committee and owner of a consulting firm. Between 2016 and 2018 alone, 1.4 million euros allegedly changed hands. The press demands explanations.
A blatant scandal
El Mundo is dismayed:
“There is a bigger scandal than discovering that Barça, the club that boasts most about its ‘values’, has been paying millions to referees for almost three decades — something that had always been suspected because of the constant favours it received. ... But even more scandalous is the persistence of many media outlets in pretending that they had ‘no idea’ what the referees were being paid for. Barça paid referees to help it win titles on the pitch that allowed the Catalan separatists to believe they were superior to clumsy Spain, so inferior it can’t even play football. ... The scandal is huge. La Liga is going down the drain.”
Anything but a dream team
The club presents a decadent image, writes El Periódico de Catalunya:
“The reaction of the current Barça board, which claims that the revelations coincide suspiciously with a good moment for the club in terms of performance, is simply incomprehensible. ... The information that has come to light demands explanations, not excuses. If Joan Laporta [president from 2003 to 2010 and since March 2021] managed during his first term in office to make the image of a ‘triumphant’ Barça real, his reaction today does not correspond to that of a dream team. ... One more sign of the decline rather than the reconstruction of the club.”