Barcelona, one of the most successful football clubs in the world, is facing the possibility of a Champions League ban if found guilty of ref-fixing charges. Spanish prosecutors have launched a legal case against the Catalan side, accusing them of paying the country’s referees’ chief Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira more than £6 million over a 17-year period. The payments were allegedly made between 2001 and 2018, including the four-year spell when Pep Guardiola was the coach. However, there are no suggestions that the Manchester City boss was aware of the agreement.
The club and former Presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, as well as Negreira, have all been hit with official corruption charges. Rival clubs, including Real Madrid, have demanded massive sanctions against Barcelona. While Spanish FA rules have a three-year statute of limitations on “serious” offences, La Liga and the national association cannot impose a punishment. However, Uefa regulations open the door to a ban from European competition if the charges are proved.
Uefa regulations state that clubs must “refrain from any conduct that damages or is likely to damage the integrity of matches and competitions.” This includes anybody using a “third party” to act “in a manner that is likely to exert an illegal or undue influence on the course and/or outcome of a match or competition.” Any club breaching that rule is liable to a one-season ban from playing in European competition.
Sun Sport understands that Euro chiefs will not consider any action until the end of the legal proceedings in Spain. Uefa’s legal department has asked the Spanish FA for a full report on what the investigation has uncovered. However, Euro chiefs may see the situation as a wedge to drive between Barcelona and Real Madrid over their Super League involvement.
Real Madrid has already joined a private prosecution, adding to the pressure on Barcelona. The club has also been told it has a budget of MINUS £200m this summer. The financial situation is due to the impact of Covid-19 on football clubs worldwide. Barcelona’s revenue has been severely affected by the pandemic, leading to significant financial losses.
In conclusion, Barcelona is facing a challenging time as it battles ref-fixing charges. The club could face a Champions League ban if found guilty of the charges. While Spanish FA rules do not allow for punishment due to the statute of limitations, Uefa regulations open the door to a ban from European competition if the charges are proved. Euro chiefs are waiting for the legal proceedings in Spain to conclude before taking any action. Real Madrid has already joined a private prosecution, adding to the pressure on Barcelona. The club’s financial situation is also dire due to Covid-19’s impact on football clubs worldwide.