Barcelona could be barred from Champions League over corruption charges
By Sean Walsh
Barcelona could be denied entry into the UEFA Champions League if they are found guilty of corruption and attempting to fix the outcome of matches.
Spanish prosecutors officially filed corruption charges against Barcelona on Friday in wake of the Negreira scandal.
While it was previously only intimated that Barça had paid former vice-president of Spain's refereeing committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, for information and analysis on certain match officials, the charges suggest that there was an intent to gain an unfair sporting advantage in lieu of favourable decisions.
"Through presidents [Sandro] Rosell and [Josep Maria] Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice-president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favouring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions," Spanish prosecutors said.
Though La Liga president Javier Tebas has insisted Barcelona cannot be punished by the Spanish football system as the charges relate to activity from over three years ago, UEFA could still take action.
Marca report that Barça could be barred from entering the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League even before a verdict in the case due to potential damages to UEFA's reputation.
Officially, UEFA can bar teams from entering competitions based on historic match fixing charges dating back to 2007 - a much longer threshold than La Liga.
Article 4.01, section G, of UEFA's Champions League regulations reads: "To be eligible to participate in the competition, clubs must not have been directly and/or indirectly involved, since the entry into force of Article 50(3) of the UEFA Statutes, i.e. 27 April 2007, in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level and confirm this to the UEFA administration in writing."
Barcelona are almost certainties to qualify for next season's Champions League via their La Liga finish, sitting nine points clear at the top of La Liga.