The judge of the ‘Negreira case’ believes that there was “systemic corruption” in the arbitration to favor Barcelona | Sports

The former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), José María Enríquez Negreira, in an undated photo.
The former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), José María Enríquez Negreira, in an undated photo.AS diary

The head of the Investigating Court 1 of Barcelona, ​​Joaquín Aguirre López, points out that the so-called Negreira case, in which the payment, between 2001 and 2018, of millions in amounts by FC Barcelona to José María Enríquez Negreira, who was vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), has uncovered the existence of “systemic corruption” in the arbitration of Spanish soccer that supposedly tried to favor the blaugrana team. “It is presumed by pure logic that FC Barcelona would not pay Vice President Negreira around 7 million euros since 2001 if it did not benefit him,” adds the investigating judge in a case in which, in addition to the former referee, his son is accused Javier, the former presidents of Barça Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, and the former directors Albert Soler and Óscar Grau.

In the order in which he rejects the appeal presented by Bartomeu against the appearance as a private accusation of Real Madrid, the magistrate points out that, from what has been investigated so far, it can be deduced that Enríquez Negreira used his position in the CTA to favor referees ” like-minded” so that they could direct “relevant La Liga or Cup matches and international matches or even maintain the category, thus increasing their income very significantly”. The judge considers this “an innovative way” of purchasing members, far from “the traditional method of payment for a specific match.”

In his judicial decision ―dated on August 23 but which was communicated this Tuesday to the parties together with four other orders―, the magistrate points out that it is a “logical possibility” that the payments from FC Barcelona to Enríquez Negreira and related companies They presumably sought to “benefit him with certain decision-making within the arbitration group, which would necessarily have redounded to the detriment of the other teams.” For this reason, the order opens the door for “any First Division team that has coincided with FC Barcelona during the years under investigation” to appear in the case as an accusation, as the white team, the only club, has already done. who has done so individually up to now. The rest is represented by LaLiga, which also exercises the accusation in the case.

In his resolution, the magistrate recalls that Enríquez Negreira was one of the three vice presidents of the CTA, a body belonging to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) that had, among other functions, that of “appointing the referees in charge of directing the matches First Division, a category to which FC Barcelona belongs”. The judge adds that this committee was also in charge “exclusively” of “technically classifying the referees based on the corresponding evaluations” and proposing to the RFEF their promotion or relegation in the professional football categories. In addition, the CTA proposed which members were candidates to direct international meetings and designated the “reporting delegates” who, precisely, had to “observe and qualify the actions of the members” and, where appropriate, apply a so-called “corrective index”.

This last element is what, in the opinion of former referee Estrada Fernández, who filed the complaint against Negreira, supposedly allowed the then vice president of the arbitration committee to control the collegiate qualification system to favor those close to him. In this sense, the judge recalls that several retired referees have branded “in a mockery” this index as “corrupting” in their statements to the press, since they believed that it “did not meet known criteria” and allowed referees without the level necessary technical staff agreed to direct international soccer matches and, in this way, “to collect more money annually.” The judge assures in the order that he has asked the Civil Guard to confirm “the veracity of these suspicions.”

The magistrate concludes that the millionaire payments from FC Barcelona to Enríquez Negreira are not justified “by the goodness of the reports” that he is supposedly prepared for the club, but by his condition at that time as vice president of the CTA and the “relevant functions” that it had, specifically, “in the qualification and appointment of the referees” who should direct the matches. “If it were to be shown that the CTA determined the internal classification of the referees based on criteria unrelated to their technical quality […]the other teams in the first division must be admitted as harmed given the logical possibility that FC Barcelona paid Negreira and entities linked to it to benefit them with certain decision-making within the arbitration group”, added the magistrate in the car.

However, the judge adds that, although the investigation does not finally prove the existence of payments to “specific referees to alter the outcome of certain matches”, the deliveries of money from Barça to Enríquez Negreira could constitute a crime of sports corruption. “FC Barcelona has paid between 2001 and 2018, […] to Vice President Negreira between €70,000 and €700,000 per year. Therefore, given that it is proven that one of the three vice-presidents of the body that appoints the referees each day and that decides the promotions and relegations and internationalities was paid, and at the expense of specifying the exact amounts received, what must be decided ( and it will be done shortly) is whether such fact is presumably constituting a crime and, specifically, what crime, why and for what purpose those payments were made, ”adds the magistrate.

With other known resolutions this Tuesday, the judge tries to give impetus to the investigation. Thus, in one of them it has agreed to require the RFEF ―which it has excluded as an accusation from the case considering that as it is a public body it cannot exercise said procedural role―, the Catalan Football Federation and the Catalan Football Federation itself. FC Barcelona, ​​documentation on the control and audit systems of the blaugrana club to try to determine why the internal alarms for payments to Enríquez Negreira did not go off despite the fact that they lasted for 18 years.

In addition, it has opened a separate piece in the summary focused on the alleged crime of money laundering that is imputed to the former referee and his son Javier, to expedite the main piece, referring to the payments of FC Barcelona. The magistrate considers that the investigation of the alleged money laundering by the former arbitration vice-president “may be especially complex considering the personal framework of some involved” and delay the initial investigations that, he already points out, will not be “too long”. has decided to form a separate piece with the latter.

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