27 Jul Barcelona cleared for Champions League amid UEFA probe
Barcelona has received provisional clearance to participate in the 2023-24 Champions League as UEFA continues its investigation into allegations of payments made by the club to a referees’ chief.
The European Football governing body confirmed in March that it was looking into claims of Barcelona making payments in exchange for favourable refereeing decisions. However, the club firmly denies any wrongdoing in the matter.
While Barcelona has been granted permission to compete in European competitions, Uefa has reserved the right to impose penalties on the club in the future depending on the outcome of the investigation. The probe by Uefa was initiated after the Barcelona public prosecutor’s office launched a criminal investigation on March 10th.
The allegations revolve around an amount of 8.4 million euros (£7.4 million) that Barcelona is accused of paying to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, and his company Dasnil 95. They have been indicted for charges related to “corruption,” “breach of trust,” and “false business records.”
Uefa stated that the investigators handling the case are to continue and conclude their investigation, and a further report will be sent to the appeals body if necessary to assess the potential admission or exclusion of FC Barcelona from the Champions League.
The controversy emerged when radio station Ser Catalunya revealed the payments after tax authorities scrutiniSed Negreira’s company Dasnil 95. Barcelona reportedly made payments totalling 1.4 million euros (£1.2 million) to the company between 2016 and 2018. Additionally, Negreira, who is 77 years old, allegedly received around 7 million euros (£6.2 million) from the club between 2001 and 2018, the year he left his position on the referees’ committee.
In response to the allegations, Barcelona acknowledged the payments made to Dasnil 95, describing the company as an “external technical consultant” responsible for compiling video reports related to professional referees to assist the coaching staff. The club claimed that contracting such reports was a common practice among professional football clubs.
The situation garnered further attention when 18 out of the 20 La Liga clubs expressed “deep concern” over the matter, and Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, announced the launch of an internal investigation into the payments.