Even though Barcelona have all but secured qualification for the UEFA Champions League next season, there had been some lingering doubts over their participation in the competition due to the investigation into the ‘Negreira case’.
Barça were accused of paying off referees to gain favourable treatment after it emerged that they had made payments worth over €7 million to the vice-president of the Referees Technical Committee, Enriquez Negreira.
No evidence has been found to support the claims of any wrongdoing, while there have been leaked documents that instead support Barcelona’s stance that the payments were made for scout reports on players and technical reports on officials.
President Joan Laporta conducted a big press conference earlier this month and provided clarification about the same, reiterating why the payments had been made. Nevertheless, the matter is being investigated by UEFA which could have led to possible sanctions.
But, according to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are unlikely to be banned from playing in the UEFA Champions League next season and the club will be receiving the licence from the committee so that they can participate in the tournament.
The committee that issues the licences for teams to participate in the Champions League is supposed to do so before May 15. And, as things stand, there has been no reason found for Barça to not receive one.
One of the most recurrent questions asked at UEFA about the ‘Negreira case’ is: ‘Was there a clear incompatibility between the position of the Referees Committee and Enriquez’s company?’
The answer to that has been no. The fact that he was on the committee and owned a major share in a company that provided services to a club does not constitute a crime. Furthermore, there is no substantial proof that there has been any wrongdoing, just a suggestion of a mere possibility.
On top of that, it has emerged that Negreira did not have direct influence on the appointment or decisions of the match officials. So, UEFA will not risk making such a controversial decision and the licencing committee will go ahead and allow for Barcelona’s registration in the Champions League.
There is a scenario that the Disciplinary Committee might step in at a later date and stop Barcelona from competing. For now, though, that seems unlikely.