Court limits probe into Barcelona’s payments to refereeing official to exclude Laporta’s first term

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A Spanish court has reduced the scope of its probe into the Barcelona’s payment of millions of dollars over several years to a former vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee.

A Barcelona-based court said Friday that it will no longer investigate club president Joan Laporta for his first stint in charge of the club from 2003-10 since the statute of limitations for any possible crimes has expired.

The investigation will continue into the payments that the club kept making to the refereeing official under the leadership of Laporta’s successors.

In March 2023, state prosecutors formally accused Barcelona of corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation. Prosecutors said the club paid José María Enríquez Negreira, a former referee who was a part of the federation’s refereeing committee from 1994-2018, 7.3 million euros ($7.9million) from 2001-18.

Barcelona has denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.

Negreira did not referee games during the years he was paid by Barcelona. His duties were administrative inside the referees committee of the Spanish soccer federation.

Laporta returned to run the club for a second spell in 2021.

The court will either shelve its judicial probe or recommend for the case to go to trial.


AP soccer:

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