FC Barcelona players celebrate their victory against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou, Barcelona on March 19, 2023. EFE/Enric Fontcuberta.

Uefa opens probe into FC Barcelona’s Negreira payments scandal

Madrid, Mar 23 (EFE).- Europe’s football governing body Uefa on Thursday said it had opened an investigation into FC Barcelona over a “potential violation” of its legal framework in relation to an alleged corruption scandal that has rocked the Catalan club.

Barcelona and former club officials including presidents have already been indicted on corruption charges in Spain over payments it made to the then vice-president the country’s referee committee (CTA) José María Enríquez Negreira.

In a statement Thursday, Uefa said: “In accordance with Article 31(4) of the Uefa Disciplinary Regulations, Uefa Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of Uefa’s legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira’.”

Uefa requested information on the matter on February 24, 2023, just over a week after news emerged that Barcelona prosecutors had launched an investigation into the club.

Barcelona made payments totalling 7.3 million euros to a firm belonging to former referee and erstwhile senior CTA official Negreira between 2001 and 2018 in a case that could amount to “continued sporting corruption,” breach of trust and false documentation, Spanish prosecutors say.

The club previously acknowledged the payments, saying it had received technical reports on refereeing as part of the deal, which Barça insists was above board.

A Barcelona judge accepted the case against the club on March 15. Ex-Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, ex-director general Óscar Grau and ex-sporting director Albert Soler have all been accused of being involved in the scheme.

The investigation into the payments dates back to July 2019, when Spanish tax authorities took a closer look at the arrangements between the club and the companies linked to Enríquez Negreira. EFE