Barcelona charged with corruption over claims they paid off referees for 17 YEARS as Real Madrid call emergency meeting


BARCELONA have been charged with corruption over claims the Catalans paid off the head of Spain’s refereeing committee for 17 YEARS.

The Spanish giants are accused of syphoning more than £6million to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who served as the committee’s vice-president between 1994 and 2018.

GettyThe LaLiga side have been charged with corruption[/caption]

Barcelona are said to have made the payments between 2001 and 2018, including the four-year spell they were coached by Pep Guardiola — although there are no suggestions the Manchester City boss was aware of the agreement.

Spanish LaLiga chief Javier Tebas turned the matter over to state prosecutors because the alleged payments were outside his competition’s statute of limitations.

And now Barca, former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, and Negreira have all been hit with official corruption charges.

Last week Tebas said current Barca president Joan Laporta would have to resign if the charges were proven.

He added: “It doesn’t matter if it’s Barcelona or anybody else  — this is about the reputation of LaLiga.

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“We are acting on the criminality side of this with the Spanish government.

“Barcelona have to explain a lot about those payments.”

Club chief Laporta has denied any impropriety.

Laporta insisted: “Let it be clear. Barca have never bought referees and Barca have never had the intention of buying referees — absolutely never.”

Real Madrid have responded to Barcelona’s charges by calling for an urgent board meeting to determine their response.

The reigning LaLiga champions’ board will meet at noon tomorrow to decide on their next steps.

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EPAReal Madrid chief Florentino Perez has called an urgent board meeting[/caption]

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