Barcelona's President Denies Paying Referees for a "Sporting Advantage."

The president of the Barcelona football club, Joan Laporta, claims that all payments made to a business owned by a senior refereeing official were open and provided in exchange for technical reports, not to obtain an unfair competitive advantage.

A Barcelona court decided to embark on the issue last week after prosecutors complained about payments totalling 7.3 million euros ($7.95 million) to companies held by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira between 2001 and 2018.

Negreira served as a referee and vice president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation's refereeing committee from 1994 to 2018. Barcelona claimed that they paid him for reports and refereeing-related advice.

At a news conference held on Monday to address the situation at the club's Camp Nou stadium, Laporta stated, clearly, referees were not bought, and there was no attempt to influence their choices.

According to Laporta, the club has never done anything with the idea or goal of changing the competition to acquire some form of sports advantage.

He also disparaged Real Madrid, a rival of Barcelona who has joined the prosecution's case. According to Laporta, referees have historically favoured Real Madrid, but Real Madrid did not comment at the time.

According to Laporta, the accusations of misconduct are part of a "smear campaign" against the Catalan team, which is presently leading La Liga. It is a planned propagative move to destroy the reputation of Barcelona. 

Barcelona claims that Negreira, a former referee and vice head of the Spanish football federation's (CTA) refereeing committee, was compensated for reports and suggestions regarding refereeing. 

Laporta confirmed this assertion by saying that all of the payments were "legal and documented." 

The incident originally surfaced as a result of tax agency investigations into Negreira's financial records. Laporta recalled that the Spanish tax office had informed the prosecution in a letter that it had failed to establish that the payments made to Negreira's enterprises could have affected the referees or the outcome of any match.

Laporta claimed they could not demonstrate it because it was not feasible.

The club, Negreira, Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, two of the club's past presidents, are all charged with corruption.

The payments from Barcelona allegedly stopped in 2018 after Negreira left the CTA, according to the Spanish prosecutors. 

According to La Liga President Javier Tebas, the Barcelona refereeing corruption affair is the "worst" thing that has ever happened to Spanish football.

He stated last month that our football's reputation is on the line. Barcelona has not explained this to us.

Barcelona's participation in future Champions League tournaments may also be in jeopardy after UEFA, the organisation that governs European football, declared in March that it will be investigating the claims aswell. 

Early in April, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin informed Slovenian media that the situation was "very severe." 

Barcelona leads Real Madrid by 11 points in La Liga, nine games are left to play as the club's iconic player Xavi is getting closer to earning his first title as the coach of his old team.

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