By Le Figaro with AFP
Published 57 minutes ago, Updated now
Xavi. ALBERT GEA / REUTERS
FC Barcelona is in the eye of the storm following the arbitration scandal. The FC Barcelona coach tried to defend the institution.
FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez did not “never had the feeling» that his club had been favored by arbitration, he repeated Thursday while a search took place at the Spanish arbitration department in an investigation implicating the Catalan club.
«You know my opinion, I never had the feeling that the referees favored us. Never», Said Xavi during a press conference before the match of the 8th day of La Liga which will pit Barça against Sevilla on Friday.
The Blaugrana coach referred journalists to his past statements regarding the refereeing scandal dubbed “Affair Negreira», named after José Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former senior official of Spanish arbitration at the center of the investigation.
This scandal has been poisoning the life of Barça for months, which denies any irregularity. It experienced a twist on Thursday with a search ordered by the courts at the headquarters of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), in the premises of the Spanish Football Federation in Las Rozas, near Madrid.
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Contacted by the tax authorities regarding possible irregularities in the payment of taxes by a company belonging to Mr. Negreira, former vice-president of the CTA between 1994 and 2018, the prosecution opened a preliminary investigation in spring 2022.
FC Barcelona, its former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell as well as Mr. Negreira and his son are charged in particular with “corruption» in this case since March.
According to the prosecution, the Catalan club paid a total of more than 7.3 million euros to Mr. Negreira’s company. According to Barça, this was to pay for advice on refereeing matters but the courts suspect that these sums could have been used to corrupt game directors.
«Barça have never bought referees and never intended to buy them, let me be clear“, assured the current president of the club, Joan Laporta, in March.