Sports

Spanish referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez has filed a criminal lawsuit in a Barcelona court against former senior referee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira for alleged sporting fraud, according to reports.

Negreira is being investigated by the Spanish prosecutor’s office for receiving payments from Barcelona between 2016 and 2018 for consultancy work, which included refereeing reports, while he was still vice president of the Spanish Refereeing Committee (CTA).

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However, while those are the only payments being investigated by the tax office, it has also been disclosed that Barca paid Negreira over €7 million dating back to at least 2001, spanning multiple presidencies.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta’s first spell in office was from 2003 to 2010.

Barca said they had hired the company for “technical reports” on refereeing.

According to Catalan TV3, in the lawsuit presented by Estrada Fernandez on Friday, he believes Negreira’s role within the CTA “had or could have had” influence over referees.

Moreover, that there was “an obvious profit motive” behind the payments Negreira received from Barcelona.

Estrada Fernandez, who is now a VAR official having previously refereed top-flight games in Spain, has also reportedly filed a lawsuit against Negreira’s company, Dasnil 95, and Negreira’s son, Javier Enríquez Romero.

Enriquez Romero provided ‘coaching’ services to active referees, while accompanying them from the hotel to the stadium where they had to officiate.

Estrada Fernandez believes the Negreira case violates the transparency of professional football, the good name of the referees and the integrity that should guide the behaviour of the CTA.

LaLiga said Barca will not face sporting sanctions over the Negreira revelations because statute of limitations laws in Spain make it possible to punish clubs only within three years of any offences.

However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said earlier this week that Barca president Joan Laporta should resign if he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation regarding the payments.

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