Barcelona president Joan Laporta thinks it is “no coincidence” allegations that the club made large payments to a former vice-president of Spain’s Technical Committee of Referees have been made now.
Radio station Ser Catalunya on Wednesday claimed Barca paid €1.4million to a company part-owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira between 2016 and 2018.
Former LaLiga referee Negreira held his role with the Royal Spanish Football Federation from 1994 to 2018.
It is alleged Barca wanted to ensure “that there would be complete neutrality” in refereeing decisions affecting the Catalan club.
Barca responded with a statement on Wednesday saying they had hired the services of an external consultant that supplied the club’s technical secretaries with reports in video format of youth players from other clubs in Spain.
The Blaugrana added that “the relationship with that supplier extended to technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement the information requested by the first and second team coaching staff. This a common practice among professional football clubs.”
Barca revealed they would be taking legal action against “those who are trying to tarnish the club’s image with possible insinuations against its good reputation that could be caused by the release of such information.”
Laporta believes it is no coincidence allegations have been aimed at the club while they are sitting pretty at the top of LaLiga and preparing to face Manchester United in a Europa League play-off on Thursday.
“It’s no coincidence that this information comes out now,” he said. “FC Barcelona in the past had contracted the services of an external consultant to obtain reports from players in the lower categories of Spanish football, and arbitration advice, which is a service that other Spanish clubs hire.
“The news is surprising and it is no coincidence that is has come out now. Any tendentious interpretation that insinuates things that are not will receive a proportional response from the club, we will defend the honour and interests of FC Barcelona.”
Barca head coach Xavi said during a press conference: “The club has made a statement, so in line with the club, [I have] no more [to say]. They are years in which I was not in the club, but I defend it.”