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Barcelona president Joan Laporta’s Caso Negreira press conference: as it happened

Update:
Barcelona's President Joan Laporta presents documents as he addresses a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 17, 2023. - Barcelona have never "done anything" to "obtain some type of sporting advantage," the club's president Joan Laporta said amid investigations into payments made to a former refereeing chief. Laporta told that the allegations of wrongdoing were part of a "smear campaign" against the Catalan side who are currently top of La Liga. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

Laporta press conference: as it happened

That brings an end to the press conference where FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, time and time again, insisted that the club did not pay Negreira to influence games in LaLiga and that they are the victim of a smear campaign by those trying to try and 'lynch' the club.

Javier Tebas came under fire for his position in the matter and Laporta deemed that was 'responsible' for the head of LaLiga. 

Real Madrid also came under criticism and Laporta was angered by the club's position and insinuated that if any club got favourable refereeing decisions in the past it was 'Los Blancos'.

There was no talk of Lionel Messi as was suspected pre press conference and the decision to take Barcelona out of the Super League also failed to materialise as was suspected. Laporta maintain that Barcelona back the initiative as they feel it is an ideal that will help to 'protect the game'.

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Q: "How many journalists or outlets has the club taken legal action against"?

Laporta: "We'll take action against those who serve to tarnish the name of the club and to answer the question, approximately 20 journalists have been taken to task".

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Q: "Do you feel that this has been a personal crusade against you and have you thought about standing aside"?

Laporta: "Far from that ... if they want to get me ..here I am. I was elected to defend the club and it's members and that's what I will do along with the rest of the board and club employees."

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Q: "You invoiced Negreira's son? What role did the father have here?

Laporta: "I can only think that the hypothesis goes back to those trying to claim that given the father's role at the referee commission would have been influential in influening games". 

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Q: "How is your relationship with Florentino Perez"

Laporta: "The institutional relationship has been damaged, that is true. We've always had great levels of respect and realise that our rivalry is very special on a global level."
"I don't want to get bogged down in a Barcelona-Madrid thing though".

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Q: "Who do you feel is behind these campaigns against the club that you refer to"?

Laporta: "The son of Negreira I believe also worked for Valencia and Girona I understand. As to who is behind this ? You don't need to be too clever to see that.... The club is back on it's feet but it's curious that it comes at a time when we failed to bend over and sign the CVC deal. It also comes when we've backed the Super League ..."

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Q: "Has any other club president from LaLiga been in touch with you about this issue"?

Laporta: "No, and that is a little disappointing. But the posture of the head of LaLiga has been the most disappointing of all with improper language and attitude. He should have acted in a more prudent and responsible manner".

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Q: "Do you see UEFA banning FCB next season from participating in Europe even if there is no legal outcome"?

Laporta: "I don't think that UEFA would 'lynch' one of their own members without there being a legal verdict"

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Laporta reflects on Real Madrid again and is disappointed about their cynicism and alludes that the club from the capital have indeed benefited from referring favouritism in the past.

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Q: "You claim that there is a campaign against the club and you make reference to the club being identified with Catalunya"

Laporta: "I only suggested that were true in certain circles and I don't want this to be taken out of context. But there have been some who clearly have a fixed ideology and they have nothing as there is nothing here which id irregular"
 

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Q: "Does the position of Real Madrid in this case affect your relationship with Madrid in the Super League"?

Laporta: "Our involvement with the Super League is based on improving football and despite me not liking their posture, it's a seperate matter".

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Q: "What about the final four separate documents"?

Laporta: "They were more focused on scouting... profiles on other clubs. Back in those days, there was not the high level of data available on each player".

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Q: "What was the content of the documents provided"

Laporta: "Well, it's basically technical stuff ... talks about the profile of the referee, what games the ref in question had overseen.... what was their manner of officiating ...very detailed briefings with CD's adding more details. Very detailed information."

 

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Doesn't look like we'll get any insight from Laporta on matters that are not connected to the Negreira case. This seems to be the sole motive for press conference and cannot see the president going off piste as his focus seems to be 100% Negreira.

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Q: "Should the club not have gathered together the presidents who were in power during the time frame in question"?

Laporta: "I insist that we are convinced that there was no wrongdoing here. All of us together would just fan the flames of this campaign that is being conducted against the club".

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Q: "You mentioned Tebas and Infantino but not Ceferin"?

Laporta: "Yes, I mentioned Tebas who has been well out of order with his comments. I think he has been unprofessional with his comments and many of these declarations are totally false.".

"Tebas should have been there to put out the flames but instead he has added fuel to the fire".

"Ceferin made his comments but is now speaking in a prudent manner and has not banged Tebas' drum".

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Q: "I'd like to look at the 7.3 million euro paid"

Laporta: "This was paid over almost two decades. These were relevant dossiers and this was over an 18 year term that crossed various reigns with different FCB club presidents". 

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Q: "I'd like to ask you about ethics.... What about former presidents at the club?"

Laporta: "I'll say it again, the former head of the referee commission had no influence in selection match officials for games".

On a level of sporting ethics, there was no incompatibility." 

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Q: "If these briefings were carried out by an external company, we would not be here today. Did no-one at the club think that this could provoke a conflict of interests?

Laporta: "When we took over, we saw this and thought that they could be interesting. Now we have a compliance department and they would look at a matter like this. All new initiatives go via that division. They are there to protect our level of ethics.

"We were billing Negreira's son, he was a former Spanish FA employee, he'd worked in Turkey with Luis Aragones."

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Q: "What can you tell us about Mr Contreras who was involved in paying Negreira?"

Laporta: "He passed away but I ask those to look at the briefing from the tax institutions to see how that there were three external companies (linked to Contreras) sending bills to the club. This was not during my spell in charge but if there were any irregularities, then FCB are the victims of fraud."

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Q: "What amount was paid to Negreira"

Laporta: "This sum of money was paid over 17 years and it's important to put things in context and the studies were carried out over a long time. The person who mainly offered these services was Negreira's son. Negreira had zero ability to select match officials or influence the outcome of games. These hypotheses that Negreira could swing games is totally false.

The investigation from the Spanish FA reinforces this."

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There will a further 90 minutes of questions....

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Question time from the media now.

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Laporta: "Barcelona transmits positive ideologies. We will not allow that others tarnish this reputation and we will do all in our powers to defend the club". 

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Laporta: "These are things that are all linked together and instrumental in the whole affair"

"I ask that the FCB family remain united. I insist that the Negreira Case is not sporting corruption."

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Laporta: "Of course, they take us to task during our golden years but I have faith in the legal system".

"Nothing is a coincidence.... this campaign comes just as we are starting to do better financially, we're top of LaLiga and we need to stand by the the team more than ever."

"It also comes after we declined to sign up to the CVC venture presented by LaLiga".

"It also comes when we are involved in looking at a new way of improving football (Super League).... the head of LaLiga has looked to Uefa to add their weight to this campaign against us".

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Laporta: "There seem to be certain quarters that fail to accept that Barcelona represents an open Catalunya and that the club is an ambassador for Catalunya". 

"Our legal team will take any relevant legal action for those who look to defame the club".

"I am also more than happy to answer questions"

"To wrap up, FCB have not committed any sporting infraction in the Negreira case. All invoices have been studied and have been transparent".

"I'd also like to single out Real Madrid, a club who have made their position clear in this manner,... always considered as the team of the regime and are always linked with refereeing favouritism."

"During 70 years, those who were overseeing games were former Madrid socios, players or board members".

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Laporta: "LaLiga have behaved in an unprofessional manner and have condemned us without any proof, many of these accusations have been erroneous. I ask them to desist from these declarations".

"There have also been those who have behaved in a correct and professional manner and I'd like to thank the head of the FA (Rubiales), along with Infantino (FIFA) and the Spanish sporting council (Franco)."

"Some seem keen to destabilize us. They want to create a case that doesn't exist and tarnish the reputation of the club".

 

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Laporta: "FCB have been condemned in the media without any proof".

"We ask that this is picked up by the RFEF, UEFA and FIFA to look at this and this has impacted on our credibility".

"We are being judged in the media without any proof and this is unacceptable".

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Laporta: "We believe that the law works and they work at their pace, we're working hand in hand 100% with them".

We reject the way we have been condemned by many without the case having gone through the correct channels." 

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Laporta: "We received 629 reports from Negreira along with 43 CDs along with other briefings".

Here's an example ... 'shows a copy'... the CD's also highlight information preliminary information.

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Laporta: "Staff members need to be aware of their responsibility"?

"The head of compliance worked and these are the conclusions"

Laporta shows a slide that shows the results of the investigation. 

"There is no indication that the club has been involved in any form of sporting corruption".

 

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Laporta: "People or entities outside the club could have behaved in an improper way and FCB would then become a victim"... this is important to reinforce".

"What does this imply?"

"We need to make sure that all staff members are aware that the area of compliance is reinforced".

 

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Laporta: "There has been nothing untoward done and we've worked with many former referees in conducting an investigation and documents have been reviewed by the tax body".

"Everything in terms of invoicing can be accounted for via accountability".

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Laporta: "Barcelona continues to be a reference point for many around the world".

"We've always worked in the area of compliance with the external investigation on the Negreira case"

"FCB has never been involved in any activity with the intention of swaying results in our favour".

"I have documentation that show that there have never been any payments that directly attempt to sway results in sporting competitions".

 

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Laporta: "Barcelona has always been a 'clean' club throughout its history. We celebrate wins together and when we lose, we don't look for excuses. This is a club based on core values and we want to win the 'right' way". 

"We never want to win with external help"

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Laporta: 'As the top member of the club, I wanted to offer an explanation of the 'Negreira Case' and offer facts and although this is not a case reflected for the current board, we have suffered from conclusions that are not related to the club".

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We've live and Laporta takes to the stand. 

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FCB

Mystery boxes on stage ahead of Laporta talk

Four filing boxes are onstage at the Auditori 1899 ahead of Joan Laporta's press conference....

What's in the box(es)? All will be revealed in less than 15-20 minutes!

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta said yesterday that the courts had "nothing" against Barça in the refereeing scandal that has shaken Spain for two months. Laporta has assured fans of the club that he would "give all the explanations" about the role of FC Barcelona in this case this morning in the press conference that is set to start in less than 15 minutes.

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Laporta's message to FCB fans

Laporta posted a message to the 'Blaugrana' faithful over a month ago stating:

'Culers, you can be calm. Barça is innocent of the accusations made against it and is the victim of a campaign, that now involves everyone, to harm its honorability. It is no surprise, and we will defend Barça and prove that the Club is innocent. Many will be forced to rectify.'

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Anticipation high at the Auditori 1899

A packed Auditori 1899 is expected this morning with more than a 100 journalists accredited from more than 70 different media outlets present at the venue with key announcements anticipated.

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Joan laporta

Barcelona president Joan laporta / David Ramos / Getty Images

Laporta in contact with Uefa and Fifa

The Barcelona president has previously contacted both European and global footballing governing bodies to offer an explanation behind the Negreira case. 

LaLiga, the government sports council (CSD), Spanish FA and Real Madrid have all denounced the Catalan club for foul play in the matter.

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Laporta on Real Madrid and refereeing

Speaking at a meeting of Barcelona fan groups ahead of the Getafe game yesterday, Laporta was critical of “a club that has historically been highly favored in refereeing over the years”. This whole thing is nonsense" he added.

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Barcelona based journalist Santi Gimenez maintains that Laporta is poised to confirm that the Catalan club will officially withdraw from the Super League proposal as a way of currying favour with UEFA. That would leave just Real Madrid and Juventus as the sold clubs behind the elite breakaway initiative.  

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Aleksander Ceferin

Ceferin / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

Ceferin: 'It's serious'

Speaking on the Negreira case, UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin told Slovenian newspaper Ekipa recently: “The situation is extremely serious.”

“It is so serious that, in my opinion, it is one of the most serious in football that I have ever seen,” he said.

In March, UEFA followed opened a separate investigation into the scandal. In a statement issued last month, Ceferin’s organisation said that it would “conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework by Barcelona in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira.’

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What is ‘Barçagate’, the scandal around Barcelona? The controversy explained

Understanding 'El Caso Negreira'

Calum Roche explores the details behind the scandal that has rocked Spanish football

 

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Barça TV have dedicated two hours in their scheduling for the press conference. There is no indication as how long the event will last for and at what length the president will delve into topics over and above the Negreira case.

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Laporta on Negreira

The 'Caso Negreira' is expected to dominate the press conference this morning and at this point it's not known if Laporta will field questions from the media.

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It's also anticipated that Laporta will address the club's position on the Super League (Barcelona, along with Juve and Real Madrid) are the three sole remaining 'breakaway' clubs involved in the initiative. 

It's also expected that Laporta will also analyse the ongoing speculation that Leo Messi is set to make a Camp Nou return.

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The main motive for the FC Barcelona president to speak publically is for the club set to offer an official position on the ongoing scandal being caused by the 'Negreira' case with the Catalan club previously paying the former head of the refereeing commission.

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Hello and welcome to our live conference of the Joan Laporta press conference that is scheduled to start at 11:00 local time (05:00 am ET) and 3am PT.

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