La Liga president Javier Tebas said Thursday that no sporting sanctions can be taken against Barcelona after it was revealed they made several payments to a former refereeing chief’s company.
A company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former refereeing technical committee vice-president, received payments totalling 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million) from Barcelona, which he said was for providing the club with verbal advice on topics relating to referees.
Tebas said despite conflict of interest regulations being breached, Barcelona could not be punished in a sporting sense, although they may still face private prosecution.
“We must clarify from the outset, we have already looked into it — it is not possible to impose sporting disciplinary sanctions because five years have already passed,” said Tebas in a video published by La Liga Thursday.
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He said that sanctions were only possible within three years of the events having occurred.
The public prosecutor’s office confirmed to AFP it is carrying out investigations into the matter, but did not give further details.
The La Liga club said they previously had a contract with an “external provider” for technical reports advising the club on refereeing matters.
Tebas said ethically no services should have been provided by Negreira to Barcelona, and no payments should have been made by the club.
“(Punishment under) criminal jurisdiction is another issue,” added Tebas.
“Now the prosecutor’s office is investigating the events that occurred and whether there may be a possible crime of corruption between individuals.”
The Spanish football federation said they have requested information from Barcelona and the refereeing technical committee (CTA) regarding the payments.
The investigation began after Spain’s tax authorities identified irregularities in tax payments made between 2016 and 2018 by the company Dasnil 95 — owned by Negreira, vice-president of the CTA between 1994-2018.
Dasnil 95 reportedly received payments from Barcelona between those years.
The last invoice, according to Cadena Ser radio, was issued in June 2018. After that the CTA was restructured and Enriquez Negreira left the organisation.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, then-president of Barca, told reporters the club had decided to dispense with these services in order to cut costs.
Negreira — who refereed in La Liga between 1977-1992 — denied that he had given any favourable treatment to the club.