The Guardia Civil has searched the RFEF headquarters in Las Rozas in search of documentation

The Negreira plot spreads and the Justice imputed to Barça for bribery

PHOTO/AFP/JAVIER SORIANO - Un cámara toma imágenes de la sede de la Federación Española de Fútbol donde un juez el 28 de septiembre de 2023 ha ordenado un registro policial en la sede del comité de árbitros español, en Las Rozas de Madrid
photo_camera PHOTO/AFP/JAVIER SORIANO - A camera takes images of the Spanish Football Federation headquarters where a judge on September 28, 2023 has ordered a police search at the headquarters of the Spanish referees' committee, in Las Rozas de Madrid

Judges say that the investigation is the most fun part of their tedious work. And so it must be for Joaquín Aguirre, head of Barcelona's Court of Instruction number 1, which is investigating the Negreira case. The evidence assures that Barça paid the vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) for almost 20 years, but now it remains to be proven if there was an impact on the referees and if any team was harmed.   

For the moment, no body has dared to sanction Barcelona. LaLiga is claiming that the facts are time-barred and that it is not in its interest to sanction a club in financial ruin, which is also the other driving force of the competition, along with Real Madrid. UEFA and FIFA have not entered either, although Ceferin assured that paying a high-ranking referee for 17 years was "the biggest scandal he had seen in his career in the world of football". In this case, European football wanted to avoid antagonising one of the teams involved in the Superliga and ensure that the Champions League would be its competition for many seasons to come.   

But in Spain, justice moves at its usual slow pace. The Guardia Civil have repeated the trip to the Ciudad del Fútbol in Las Rozas as they did in 2017 to take Ángel María Villar out in handcuffs and heading for the dungeons for "operation Soule".   

PHOTO/FILE - Negreira
PHOTO/FILE - Enríquez Negreira

Evidence is being sought from the CTA to determine whether that body was aware of the money received by Enríquez Negreira father and son, which, according to the evidence, amounts to 7.5 million euros for alleged refereeing reports that nobody knows anything about in Las Rozas or at Barcelona.   

The judge suspects that the CTA is covering up the situation and has taken advantage of the departure of Rubiales to assess whether there is a predisposition among the workers to collaborate with the investigation. Medina Cantalejo, president of the CTA, has taken a low profile in the face of the scandal, and audios have been leaked in which he allegedly calls referee Estrada Fernández a "rat" and a "traitor" for filing a complaint against Negreira and his son.  

The real estate assets of referees Carlos Clos Gómez, Santiago Jaime Latre, Alejandro Hernández Hernández and José María Sánchez Martínez have increased to such an extent that there is an open investigation into how they were able to pay for numerous properties worth more than a million euros without mortgage loans.   

Judge Aguirre goes further and accuses Barça of bribery. Josep María Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, former presidents of Barça, and José María Enríquez Negreira and his son Javier Enríquez Romero, among others, have also been charged with the same offence.  

AP/JOAN MONFORT - El presidente del club FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta
AP/JOAN MONFORT - The president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta

As Negreira was considered a public official during his time at the RFEF as vice-president of the CTA, the crime of bribery is imputable to anyone who has offered payments or any kind of perks, and that includes Barça and its officials.   

The judge's order recalls the letter Negreira sent to Barça in 2018 after stopping the payments when he assured that "if they did not continue paying him he would reveal a series of facts that could seriously damage the club", so Aguirre states that "from this it is clear that Enríquez Negreira was aware that there had been illicit acts in favour of Barça of quite seriousness".   

Joan Laporta's excuse that Barça suffers historical persecution no longer holds water. This mantra of the oppression of the "Spanish State" towards Catalonia and Barça is already black on white in the long investigation by Judge Aguirre in a Barcelona court, by the way.

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