The prospect of a professional football club paying referees to manipulate on-field decisions is indeed frightening. Barcelona’s links with the former vice-president of the referees’ committee, Enriquez Negreira, and the regular payments thus unsurprisingly set off fireworks.
So, it was not a surprise to see UEFA swiftly jump into action and launch an independent investigation. While La Liga’s approach and Javier Tebas’ antics to the situation is a story for another day, there was uncertainty over UEFA’s stance.
According to reports from Catalunya Radio, Barcelona are confident that they will not be punished for the Negreira scandal. There are positive inputs from UEFA’s side and things will likely end with no sanctions.
Earlier in the day, it was reported that Joan Laporta was travelling to meet Aleksander Ceferin, the President of UEFA, in Slovenia. Now, it is being stated that the possibility of any sanction from UEFA is not as high.
While initially thought to be paid for manipulating referees, recent pieces of evidence stand strong in Barcelona’s favour.
In his press conference earlier this week, Laporta openly discussed the matter and revealed that the transactions, in fact, were made to gain scouting reports on referees.
He also spoke about the defamation lawsuits the club would pursue to receive compensation for the damage to its image during reports of the Negreira scandal.
“We have already sent 20 lawsuits against people who have been defaming the club. They are not exclusively journalists, but people who have been attacking Barça with a false hypothesis.”
If there are no repercussions demanded by UEFA from the Catalans, they will be a part of next season’s UEFA Champions League. Their qualification to the event is secure, and the focus will be to make a deep run into the competitions after two consecutive group stage exits.