A few months ago broke the shocking news that Barcelona allegedly paid the former vice-president of the Referees’ Committee, José María Enríquez Negreira over a long period of time, in order to procure favorable decisions from the officiating. In simpler words, Barcelona were accused, and later charged with “continuous corruption between individuals in the sports field”.
On Monday morning, Joan Laporta held a special press conference in order to explain the situation and defend the club’s innocence. As the president of the club, he was ready to offer an explanation of the scandal, clarifying that the money – which the club admittedly paid to the company owned by Negreira called DASNIL 95 – was spent on technical reports about referees, which is a normal practice.
To back his statements regarding the club’s innocence in the crimes they are accused of, Laporta brought to the press conference boxes filled with documents, precisely 629 referee reports, 43 CDs, and 4 player reports as strong evidence of the fact that the payments were made only for detailed technical briefings, by no means to influence what happens on the pitch.
About the fees, the €7.3 million may seem as a large sum, but the president reminded that it was paid over a 17-year period and the studies were carried out over a long time. He also stated that “the invoices are detailed by bank transfer and are documented in the club’s accounts”, claiming the transparency of the sports reports.
As of now, these are the only pieces of evidence found in the case, supporting the club’s position, as, despite the accusations and heavy campaign trying to damage the club’s image, the Prosecutor’s Office has found no evidence of Barca’s guiltiness in corruption.
On the other hand, Laporta promised to defend the club from the false accusations coming mainly from the media, and he claimed that the club is ready to take legal actions against multiple journalists and outlets – concretely the president mentioned 20 – who tries to tarnish the club’s reputation.
Another notable point of the press conference was the president’s comments made on the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, calling him “irresponsible”, one who “obviously lacked professionalism” and “fuels a controversy”, adding that “he even sent documents that were fake.”
Last but not least, Laporta turned on Real Madrid as they made their position clear in the case, calling them the “team of the regime”, “linked with refereeing favoritism” for 70 years, and thus, claiming their actions as “unprecedented cynism”.
Furthermore, the president admitted that the institutional relationship is damaged between the two clubs, and these comments did not help with that for sure. Later, Real Madrid TV posted a 4-minute response video in which they tried to depict Barcelona as the one favored by the dictator Francisco Franco, mentioning the trophies won during that period, Franco’s honorary membership in the Catalan club, the support in building the Camp Nou and more.
Laporta also showed up at Wednesday’s La Liga Assembly, where he had a kind welcome from representatives, and he also politely greeted Tebas. The meeting took place in a relaxed atmosphere, and Laporta defended the club’s position about their innocence in buying the referees and influencing results directly in their favor.