Barcelona accused of paying company owned by former high-ranking referee
Barcelona are reported to have paid €1.4m between 2016 and 2018 to a company owned by the then vice-president of Spanish football’s Technical Committee of Referees (CTA).
Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira held that position from 1994 to 2018, with his company, DASNIL 95 SL, profiting handsomely from Barcelona until the latter date.
The payments have come to light due to an investigation into the company’s tax affairs and alleged irregularities regarding the three years in question.
Cadena SER has reported extensively on the matter, revealing Barcelona made a payment to DASNIL 95 SL of just over €530,000 in 2016, around €540,000 in 2017 and €318,000 in 2018. In each year, those amounts accounted for the majority of the income at DASNIL 95 SL, with its revenue then considerably tailing off to a little over €7,000 in 2019. By that time, Enriquez Negreira no longer held a high-ranking position with the referees committee.
It is suggested Enriquez Negreira provided no documentation proving he gave a service to Barcelona because, as he told Cadena SER, he was offering verbal advice on how players should behave in front of each referee they might face.
However, it is also said his son Javier Enriquez Romero, sole administrator of DASNIL 95 SL from 2004 until 2019 did provide technical reports to Barcelona, according to club executives.
Pressed for comment, former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu suggested such reports were already being delivered when he first arrived at the club in 2003 and that payments were ended in 2018 as part of cost-cutting exercises.
A similar version of events has been shared by sources close to the Sandro Rosell administration. But Joan Gaspart, president from 2000 until 2003, denied any knowledge, while current president Joan Laporta, who was also in office from 2003 until 2010, declined to comment then but has since.
“After the information which has appeared in Cadena SER, it has to be said that Barcelona in the past had contracted the services of an external consultant for reports on players from youth categories of the Spanish state,” Laporta said.
“Along with this, this same external consultant gave refereeing advice, which is very usual at the big clubs, as has always been done. Indeed, we have this refereeing advice in-house now, in the club’s organisation chart it’s in the department of football with full normality.
“The news surprises me, it’s not a coincidence that it’s come out now. I want to communicate that any tendentious interpretation that insinuates things that are not right will receive a proportional and adequate response from the club. So we reserve all the actions we need to defend Barcelona’s honour and its interests.”
A statement from the club shared a similar explanation as to the club’s payment for reports.
The Technical Committee of Referees appears to have taken a more dim view of the apparent relationship between Barcelona and Enriquez Negreira.
“The CTA wants to make it clear that Mr Enriquez Negreira has not been part of any federative structure since 2018,” their statement read.
“The CTA deplores behaviours that could violate its ethics code. No active referee or member of the CTA bodies may carry out any work that is likely to constitute a conflict of interest.
“The CTA is making itself available to authorities to offer its full collaboration with any type of information it can provide.”
Enriquez Negreira has told Cadena SER he never favoured Barcelona in any way and insisted to the tax agency that what he did was ‘always neutral’. But he has also admitted he exclusively advised Barcelona, rather than working with a number of clubs in similar ways.