Pep Guardiola responds to Barcelona's Negreira case charges

  • Barcelona have been charged with bribery over their relationship with a former referee official
  • Guardiola was in charge at Barcelona during the period in question
  • Man City are also facing cheating accusations

Guardiola wants patience from critics
Guardiola wants patience from critics / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted he does not believe Barcelona paid for an unfair advantage from referees during his time at the club.

Barcelona have been charged with bribery over a lengthy relationship with former referee official Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira who, it is alleged, received payments from Barcelona between 2001 and 2018 in exchange for preferential treatment during games.

Guardiola, who was in charge at Camp Nou between 2008 and 2012, won ten trophies during his time at Barcelona but has seen those accomplishments questioned amid concerns over the club's conduct behind the scenes.

The boss is no stranger to this level of controversy, having recently fronted City's defence in the wake of 115 charges of financial breaches from the Premier League. Both City and Barcelona have denied any wrongdoing in their respective situations.

Asked for his opinion on Barcelona's charges, Guardiola urged fans to let the process play out before reaching any conclusions, but he did argue all of his successes came because his team was simply the best around.

"Wait and see... This is what happened to us [at City] when everyone accused us of having done something wrong," he said. "Let the justice continue its process.

Pep Guardiola
Guardiola's time at Barcelona came right in the middle of the period in question / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

"So far what I heard - I didn’t see or read, because I’m out of that - I didn’t see Barcelona really, really, really, really pay a referee to take a benefit. I didn’t see that, I didn’t read it. That’s why I want to wait before I have an opinion, because Barcelona is going to defend what they have to do, and we will see.

"What I’m pretty sure is when Barcelona won, it was because they were better than the opponents. That I’m pretty convinced about right now – in our day. We won because we were far better than our rivals. And when they were not, they don’t win, they lose. But justice will decide what really happened."

The charges have not been met with the same sympathy from across La Liga, however. Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti called for "justice", while Sevilla released a lengthy statement shortly before their meeting with Barcelona on Friday to blast the Catalan side.