CPL T20 2023

Barcelona cleared for Champions League amid UEFA probe

UEFA has granted provisional clearance to Barcelona to participate in the 2023-24 Champions League while continuing its investigation into allegations of payments made by the club to a referees’ chief.

The investigation, initiated by UEFA in response to claims of Barcelona making payments in exchange for favorable refereeing decisions, was confirmed in March. However, the club vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

While Barcelona can compete in European competitions for now, UEFA has reserved the right to impose penalties depending on the outcome of the investigation. The probe was initiated after the Barcelona public prosecutor’s office launched a criminal investigation on March 10th.

The allegations center around an amount of 8.4 million euros (£7.4 million) that Barcelona is accused of paying to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, and his company Dasnil 95. Both have been indicted on charges related to “corruption,” “breach of trust,” and “false business records.”

UEFA has stated that the investigators handling the case will continue and conclude their investigation. Depending on the findings, a further report will be submitted to the appeals body to assess the potential admission or exclusion of FC Barcelona from the Champions League.

The controversy came to light when radio station Ser Catalunya revealed the payments during tax authorities’ scrutiny of Negreira’s company Dasnil 95. Barcelona reportedly made payments totaling 1.4 million euros (£1.2 million) to the company between 2016 and 2018. Additionally, Negreira, who is 77 years old, allegedly received around 7 million euros (£6.2 million) from the club between 2001 and 2018, the year he left his position on the referees’ committee.

In response to the allegations, Barcelona acknowledged the payments made to Dasnil 95, describing the company as an “external technical consultant” responsible for compiling video reports related to professional referees to assist the coaching staff. The club claimed that such contracting of reports was a common practice among professional football clubs.

The situation drew further attention when 18 out of the 20 La Liga clubs expressed “deep concern” over the matter. In response, Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, announced the launch of an internal investigation into the payments.

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