Negreira’s statement before the Treasury: “Barça considered that it was harmed and favored other teams” | Sports

Former referee José María Enríquez Negreira, in a photo taken in 2019.
Former referee José María Enríquez Negreira, in a photo taken in 2019.Gorka Leiza / daily AS

The Tax Agency inspectors are the only ones who, for now, have heard the version of José María Enríquez Negreira out loud about the payments that, during 17 years that coincide with his stage as vice president of the Technical Arbitration Committee (CTA), he received of FC Barcelona. When he was summoned as being investigated before the Prosecutor’s Office, Negreira accepted his right not to testify, alleging that he suffers from Alzheimer’s. Before the Treasury, however, he shed light on the alleged motivations that led Barça to hire his services. EL PAÍS has accessed the full content of the statement, in which the former arbitration leader denied having used part of the 7.3 million he received from the club to pay referees.

In October 2021, three years after Barça broke the professional relationship with him, Negreira personally appeared before the Treasury, which was holding open a tax inspection on his companies Dasnil and Nilsad, used to invoice the Barça club. When the inspectors asked him what services he provided to the entity, the former referee replied: “Going to watch the games, personally or through fellow former referees, and being informed of why decisions had been made. FC Barcelona considered that the team was harmed and other teams were favored. This is a personal hypothesis, no one has told me directly. My obligation was to give my opinion on the matches in terms of arbitration and the players. Technical advice. What FC Barcelona wanted was to make sure that no decisions were made against the club, that everything was neutral, ”he specified.

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“Have you ever paid a referee or ex-referee with what you received from FC Barcelona?” Asked the inspectors. “No,” replied Negreira, who specified that he dealt directly with the presidents to discuss the matter. In his statement, he directly cited two: Sandro Rosell (2011-2014) and Josep Maria Bartomeu (2014-2020), both investigated by the Barcelona court investigating the case. “I saw them at most six times a year,” he said before admitting that there is no document that reflects the reality of his alleged advice to the club. When they insisted on the reason for the payments, Negreira said: “So they were calm that there were no decisions against FC Barcelona in the arbitration committee, that everything was neutral.” The former leader then alluded to decisions within that governing body of the referees, the CTA, which decides on promotions and relegations of referees, but not on, for example, who directs each party.

The inspection of the Tax Agency was the origin of the investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office, which on Friday filed a complaint against Barça for a continuous crime of corruption in the sports field. The public ministry considers that the 7.3 million registered subscribers to Negreira between 2001 (with Joan Gaspart as president) and 2018 (Josep Maria Bartomeu) pursued match-fixing and the alteration of the competition.

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The magistrate of Barcelona Silvia López has already admitted the complaint for processing, so both Barça (as a legal person) and former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu already have the status of investigated. The magistrate has ordered the Civil Guard to carry out the necessary investigations to find out the “reasons” for these payments and the “destination” that Negreira gave to the money, which he periodically withdrew (himself and through collaborators) in cash.

A “interlocutor” of Barça in Madrid

The payments were maintained by all the presidents since Gaspart and were interrupted by Bartomeu’s board in July 2018, presumably due to a policy of cutting expenses. One of the elements that draw the attention of the Tax Agency inspectors is that, just two months before, Negreira had lost his position as vice president of the CTA. Asked about this question, the former arbitration leader criticized Barça for making the decision “unilaterally”. “I sent a letter to Bartomeu and complained about breach of contract; then I called him, but he didn’t pick up the phone”. At a later date, through his lawyer, Negreira sent several burofaxes to the club in which he threatened to break his “confidentiality” with “all the presidents” of the club with whom he had dealt.

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In May 2021, months before going in person, Negreira had replied to the Tax Agency in writing about Dasnil. There he explained that the company was dedicated to sending orders (personalized pens, for example) and that he was the only one who managed and directed it. Regarding Barça’s payments, he said then that they were due to his “management, work and experience” in the arbitration field and that he was “personally the beneficiary” of all that income. The agreement reached with the club was “verbal” and he always dealt directly, he also insisted in writing, with the presidents. In that response, which is prior to his face-to-face appearance, he specified some of the alleged functions for which the club paid him so generously: that the Competition Committee (responsible for player sanctions) “was not made up entirely of Madrid judges ”; that Barça “set up a representative with the Federation who will take care of institutional relations” or “keep the club informed of possible interests or disagreements” between the League and the Federation.

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