Real Madrid will join Spanish prosecutors on Friday in a complaint against Barcelona and two former LaLiga club presidents that they paid a company owned by a high-ranking referee to influence the outcome of matches, the club said on Sunday.
The Champions League and LaLiga owners have called an emergency board meeting to discuss Barcelona’s attempts to influence referees and have decided to take legal action over what prosecutors called “serious allegations”.
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Real Madrid expresses its deep concern for the seriousness of the facts and reiterates its full confidence in the justice system and, in defense of its legal interests, they have agreed to join the complaint when the judge hears the case. “, the official statement of the club says.
Barcelona are alleged to have paid more than 7.3 million euros between 2001 and 2018 to firms owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who was vice president of the Spanish Football Association’s referees committee from 1993 to 2018.
Prosecutors allege that in a secret agreement and “in exchange for money”, Negreira “favored Barcelona in decisions made by referees in games played by the club, as well as in the results of competitions”.
A senior Barcelona official told Reuters on Friday that the club was awaiting a complaint from prosecutors, describing it as “nothing more than an absolutely preliminary investigation hypothesis”.
The official said the club would “cooperate fully with the investigation where necessary” and “reiterate that they have never bought off a referee or tried to influence the decisions of any official”.
Barca president Joan Laporta said in a message posted on Twitter on Sunday that the club was innocent.
“Barca fans, relax,” Laporta said. “Barca are not guilty of what we are accused of and are now victims of the campaign against us that everyone is involved in. It is not surprising. We will defend Barca and prove the innocence of the club. Many people will go to correct themselves.”
In a statement last month, Barca denied wrongdoing and said it had paid an external consultant to provide them with “technical reports on professional refereeing”, calling it a “common practice among professional football clubs”.
The complaint focuses on 2.9 million euros paid between 2014 and 2018 and claims Barcelona reached a “secret verbal agreement” with Negreira with the help of former presidents Sandro Rosel and Josep Maria Bartomeu.
He accuses the club, Rosell, Bartomeu, Negreira and two other former Barcelona officials of corruption in the sport, unfair administration and falsification of commercial documents.