UEFA has launched an investigation following allegations Barcelona made payments to a former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee.
Reports last month claimed the club paid companies owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira 7million euros (£6.2million) between 2001 and 2018.
Negreira was the vice-president of the Spanish football federation’s refereeing committee from 1993-2018.
Barca could face corruption charges in court over the allegations after Spanish prosecutors filed a complaint earlier this month.
Now football’s European governing body has announced it will also be investigating the claims.
A statement on Thursday read: ‘In accordance with article 31(4) of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework by in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira’.’
The payments, revealed by radio station Ser Catalunya, came to light following an investigation by tax authorities into Dasnil 95.
‘FC Barcelona obtained and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the technical arbitral committee (CTA) and in exchange for money, the latter carries out actions tending to benefit FC Barcelona in decisions by the referees,’ said the public prosecutor’s office.
Barca have previously denied wrongdoing.
A statement said they had paid an external consultant for ‘technical reports related to professional refereeing’, arguing it was common practice in the game.
President Joan Laporta said: ‘Barca have never bought referees nor influence. That was never the intention and that has to be clear.
The facts contradict those that are trying to tell a different story.’
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