Sports

Spanish League Clubs Concerned By Barcelona Payments

Barcelona has been under scrutiny since a state prosecutor was revealed to be probing club payments totaling millions of dollars to a company that belonged to the vice-president of the Spanish federation’s refereeing committee.

Barcelona said it started its own investigation into the case with outside help.
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Spanish league clubs expressed unease on Tuesday about payments by Barcelona to a referees’ official for years. (More Football News)

Barcelona has been under scrutiny since a state prosecutor was revealed to be probing club payments totaling millions of dollars to a company that belonged to the vice-president of the Spanish federation’s refereeing committee. Barcelona has denied any wrongdoing, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.

The league released a statement saying the majority of clubs showed “deep concern about this case, which they consider to be of the utmost seriousness.”

League president Javier Tebas said the case damaged the reputation of Spanish soccer and Barcelona president Joan Laporta “should resign if he can’t explain the payments.”

Laporta said on Tuesday the club will soon explain itself, but attacked what he called a campaign to try and damage Barcelona’s name.

“Tebas has always showed that he is anti-Barcelona,” Laporta said. “He tries to destabilize us. But I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of resigning.”

Barcelona said it started its own investigation into the case with outside help.

The league said the proposal of a joint statement from the clubs against Barcelona received “unanimous support” of all clubs in the first and second divisions with the exception of Barcelona and Real Madrid, “who objected to the joint statement for different reasons.” Madrid president Florentino Pérez has been historically at odds with Tebas.

The league and the clubs’ executive committee “reject and condemn the facts, and are deeply concerned and actively working to clarify any irregularities that may have occurred.”

Sevilla and Espanyol released statements on Monday about their worries.

The league said it was “following this matter very closely and will act firmly within the powers and limits allowed by law.”

The league said it sent a letter to the prosecutor’s office and offered to help different European bodies that may investigate the case. It said any other actions it took will not be made public to safeguard the investigation.

The payments, which have yet to be linked to any illegal or improper activity by Barcelona, were being investigated as part of a tax probe into the company by the former vice-president of the refereeing committee.

The league said sporting sanctions against Barcelona were not possible because the statute of limitations on the possible irregularities expired.

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