Barcelona have been handed a major boost in their hopes of beating charges of ‘continuous sporting corruption’.
Spanish prosecutors filed charges against the club and two former presidents – Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu – in relation to the Negreira scandal.
Barça are alleged to have paid €8m to former vice-president of Spain’s refereeing committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, from 2001 to 2018 in exchange for detailed information and analysis on match officials, hoping to gain an extra advantage.
When charges were officially levelled at Barcelona, it was further hinted that the club tried to influence decisions in games and in the appointments of referees, which would qualify as match-fixing.
Reports in Spain this weekend have stated that this could see Barcelona barred from entering the UEFA Champions League.
However, Marca revealed on Sunday that there is no sign of any evidence proving that Barça directly paid active referees or influenced their appointments.
There is proof of Barcelona falsifying commercial documents and of carrying out ‘unfair administration’, but if no evidence emerges indicting them of impacting referees and their decisions first-hand, they will likely be spared of sporting sanctions.
Meanwhile, rivals Real Madrid announced they will hold an urgent meeting on Sunday to discuss the Negreira case and the appropriate action they could take. Los Blancos have been vocal about accusations of Barcelona receiving advantages from match officials in recent years.