Barçagate: what did Barcelona get from José María Enríquez Negreira?
According to El Pais, Barcelona received advice related to referees before every single domestic game from José María Enríquez Negreira.
The scandal surrounding payments made by Barcelona to José María Enríquez Negreira, former vice president of the Referees Committee, has shaken the world of soccer, and put a target on the club’s back. The news uncovered by Cadena SER Catalunya’s Qué t’hi jugues radio programme, and confirmed by AS, has unsurprisingly generated a huge amount of debate and now Spanish daily newspaper El País has shed more light on how Barcelona and DASNIL 95 SL, the company through which Negreira received the payments, did business with each other.
Barcelona’s weekly envelope
According to El País, the company run by the former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees delivered an envelope to the club’s offices every time Barcelona played a league or Copa del Rey match. The envelope contained a written report and a DVD video analysing the profile and on-pitch behaviour of the referee who was in charge of that next match. This arrangement, which was repeated every week for matches played not only by the first team but also Barcelona B (now Barcelona Atlètic), was explained by two club witnesses in a statement given to the Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office, judicial sources have revealed to El País.
Why did Barcelona hire Negreira’s services?
Former referee Enríquez Negreira told Treasury inspectors that he did not have any documentation to prove that a commercial relationship existed because the “technical advice” he provided was verbal, and that the club had hired his services to “ensure that no controversial refereeing decisions went against them” and that the treatment they received from referees was “neutral”. The Treasury became suspicious once it suspected that DASNIL 95 SL was trying to deduct amounts from its taxes that did not seem to add up and alerted the Tax Agency.
However, as published by AS yesterday, club management sources from that time claim that the commercial relationship did exist and maintain that this ‘work’ was carried out. They say that the reports of DASNIL 95 SL deal are archived and can be presented before a court at any time.
Two decades of “technical advice” archived
The payments that are now being analysed by the Prosecutor’s Office correspond to Josep Maria Bartomeu’s time as Barça president. However, all sources consulted - both sports and judicial - agree that the services had been contracted for two decades; during the presidencies of Joan Gaspart, Joan Laporta and Sandro Rosell, the club had received ‘technical advice’ from DASNIL, run by Enríquez Negreira who, at the same time, served as number two of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), the arm of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) which is responsible for match officials in Spanish professional soccer.
El País states that everything changed in 2018. The Treasury informed Barcelona of its suspicions about the invoices, shortly before the club ended its relationship with DASNIL in June, a month before Enríquez Negreira left his position on the Committee. By that point, the company’s dealings with the club were no longer done by the veteran ex-referee but by his son, Javier Enríquez, a sports coach who has been the company’s sole administrator since 2004.
Enríquez Jr. contradicts Enríquez Sr.
Javier Enríquez testified to the National Police at the request the Prosecutor’s Office. He denied his father’s version of events, insisting that the reports were delivered in writing (as club sources point out) and defended the validity of the work he had carried out for Barcelona, which accounted for the vast majority of DASNIL’s turnover. Two members of Bartomeu’s team who also testified to the police as witnesses have ratified Enríquez Jr.’s claims, confirming that it was Javier and not his father who dealt with the club, at least at that point in time.