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Barcelona under investigation by UEFA, accused of 'buying' referees

Barcelona under investigation by UEFA, accused of 'buying' referees

UEFA has launched an investigation following allegations that Barcelona made payments to a former vice-president of Spain's referees' committee. Reports last month claimed the club paid companies owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira €7 million between 2001 and 2018.

Negreira was vice-president of the referees committee of the Spanish football federation from 1993-2018. Barca could face corruption charges in court over the allegations after Spanish prosecutors filed a complaint earlier this month. Now football's European governing body has announced it will also investigate the claims.

A statement on Thursday said: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of UEFA's disciplinary regulations, UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors have been appointed today to conduct an investigation into a possible breach of the UEFA legal framework by FC Barcelona in this regard - called 'Caso Negreira'."

Barca have previously denied wrongdoing. A statement said they had paid an outside consultant for "technical reports relating to professional refereeing", arguing it was common practice in the game.

President Joan Laporta said: "Barca has never bought judges or influence." That was never the intention and that should be clear. The facts contradict those who are trying to tell a different story.

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