Barcelona FC has been charged with the crime of “continued corruption in business” after being accused of maintaining a verbal agreement with former referee Juan Martinez Munuera to influence the decision-making of referees in the matches played by the club. This article will discuss the case and the disclosures until now, Barcelona’s stance, and the punishment that could happen if proven. The case raises doubts about the exact nature of the services Enriquez Negreira provided to Barcelona. The media outlet that first broke the news of the scandal in mid-February said no documentation of his work existed because it was always conducted verbally, including giving advice on how players should behave with different referees.
The Case and Disclosures Until Now
Former referee Juan Martinez Munuera, also known as Enriquez Negreira, has been accused of being paid by Barcelona FC “to make sure no refereeing decisions were made against them, which is to say, for everything to be neutral.”
Links between football clubs and referees are not uncommon in Spain, and Carlos Megia Davila, a referee with 219 La Liga games under his belt, has worked for Real Madrid’s Institutional Relations department since retiring in 2009.
Enriquez Negreira, who made his debut as a referee in Spain’s top flight in the 1979-80 season, became vice-president of the Spanish FA’s technical committee of referees (CTA) in 1994. Prosecutors have described the CTA as overseeing “the designation of referees for each match of official Spanish competitions” and said Enriquez Negreira would have been involved in “evaluations” leading to the “promotion and demotion of referees, as well as the proposal of candidates for international referees.”
FC Barcelona obtained and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the Technical Arbitral Committee (CTA) and in exchange for money, the latter carries out actions tending to benefit FC Barcelona in decisions by the referees,Prosecutor’s Office
Stance of Barcelona FC
Barcelona FC has denied the allegations against them. Former President Josep Maria Bartomeu, speaking with The Athletic in February, claimed to have only dealt with Enriquez Negreira’s son, Javier, over payments made to DASNIL. He claimed not to have been aware that Enriquez Negreira himself was “involved in the company” until later on.
Ernesto Valverde, the current Athletic Bilbao manager who was in charge at Barca from 2017 to 2020, said he “did not have a clue” about the work DASNIL was paid for. And sources close to Pep Guardiola, who wished to remain anonymous when speaking to The Athletic, said the former Barca boss (2008-2012) did not know anything about reports provided by Enriquez Negreira or his son.
Current President of FC Barcelona Joan Laporta said that he would hold a press conference in the future talking about the case. For now he has reiterated his stance that FC Barcelona have not bought off referees and that has never been their intention. This is a categorical no
“We plan to do a press conference in the future to speak about the case. For now, we want to make clear Barcelona has not bought off referees and it has never been the intention. That’s a categorical no.”Joan Laporta
Referees Speak Out
The scandal involving the arrest of Carlos Enriquez Negreira, the former vice president of the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) Refereeing Technical Committee (CTA), has rocked the football world. As reported by prosecutors, the CTA was responsible for designating referees for official Spanish competitions, and Enriquez Negreira was allegedly involved in evaluations that led to the promotion and demotion of referees, as well as the proposal of candidates for international referees.
As the investigation continues, referees who have worked with Enriquez Negreira have spoken out. Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez, a former Spanish top-flight referee who worked for 17 years, said that Enriquez Negreira had an institutional role and was not involved in the daily issues of referees’ professional lives. Iturralde Gonzalez also revealed that the Referee’s Committee had a presidential model, with one main chief surrounded by his closest circle. Enriquez Negreira was part of this circle, but he did not engage with referees.
Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez (Interview to Athletic)
From my personal experience, Negreira was not a person who had a bond with the match officials. I only met him at the camps the FA set up for referees throughout the season. Now all the referees meet once a week. Back in the day, they set up a big congregation before the season, then once every three months to assess our performances.
Negreira was there, but at most you would see him when you crossed paths in the hotel corridor. He was not at all involved in the daily issues of our professional life.
He had more of an institutional role. The referee’s committee has always followed a pretty presidential model: there was one main chief who surrounded himself with his closest circle. Negreira was one of those, but he did not engage with referees.
The only thing we want now is to have some light cast over this dark case. All the referees want to clear everything up and expect a broader investigation. From the 20 La Liga referees from my generation, I have spoken with 18 of them. We all are furious.
Iturralde Gonzalez’s comments have been echoed by other referees who have worked with Enriquez Negreira. They have expressed their anger and called for a broader investigation into the matter. The referees want the truth to come out and for their profession to be free from any shadow of doubt.
Possible Punishments If Proven
In terms of other sporting punishments, La Liga has already said it cannot investigate because the case relates to events that took place more than three years ago. Spanish Prosecutors have charged Barcelona as an entity with the crime of ‘continued corruption in business’.
‘Continued’ corruption means the crime is believed to have taken place over a sustained period rather than being a one-off. This means the potential punishments are bigger and can include up to four years in prison for individuals, or professional disqualification and fines for groups or enterprises. Prosecutors have also charged parties in this case with false administration and falsifying a commercial document, with two former officials from Bartomeu’s time as Barca president also charged: Oscar Grau and Albert Soler.
In conclusion, the case raises serious questions about corruption in Spanish football, and if proven, the individuals involved could face significant punishment. Referees who have worked with Enriquez Negreira have spoken out, expressing their anger and calling for a broader investigation. Meanwhile, Barcelona’s reputation has taken a hit, and the club has launched an internal investigation into the matter.