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BARCELONA

What did Barcelona great Piqué say about ‘Caso Negreira’ in RAC1 interview?

In an interview on Catalan radio station RAC1, Gerard Piqué has insisted he has “compete confidence” that Barça are not guilty of match-fixing.

Piqué responds on Kings League Twitch stream
Fernando GalindoDiarioAS

Gerard Piqué has defended Barcelona against accusations of match-fixing, after corruption charges were brought against the club last week.

Barça, ex-presidents charged over Negreira payments

On Friday, Spanish prosecutors filed formal accusations against Barça over €7m in payments made by the club to José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, between 2001 and 2018. Ex-club presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu have also been charged.

The payments came to light after an inspection by Spain’s tax agency found no evidence of the services listed on invoices issued to Barça by DASL 95, a company owned by Negreira.

Prosecutors allege that Barça reached a “verbal agreement” with Negreira for him to “undertake actions designed to favour FCB [Barcelona] in decision-making by referees in games played by the club.” In a statement last month, the 26-time Spanish champions said they had paid for “technical reports relating to professional refereeing”, describing this as “a common practice among professional football clubs”.

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Barça “didn’t buy off referees”, Piqué insists

In an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1 on Tuesday, legendary former Barça defender Piqué said he had “complete confidence” that the Catalan club didn’t bribe Negreira to influence referees’ decisions.

“They didn’t buy off referees,” he said. “If you want to buy off a referee, it’s as easy as going straight to them and paying them directly, cash in hand. You don’t pay the vice-president of the [referees’] committee and put it all down on an invoice.”

Piqué, who retired from playing in November after an illustrious, 14-year spell in the Barça first team, added that there can be no doubts about the legitimacy of the silverware won by the club during its relationship with Negreira.

As much as people want to tarnish that period, they won’t be able to,” he said. “You can go back and look at the games and the trophies we won. We were much the better side and didn’t depend on referees. I wouldn’t pay any attention to this, but I understand that the club has to defend itself.”

Laporta: Barça victim of “campaigns carried out in bad faith”

On Monday, Barça president Joan Laporta insisted that the club is innocent of wrongdoing, adding that the Blaugrana are being targeted out of “envy”.

Some, motivated by envy, try to erode our reputation with campaigns carried out in bad faith,” Laporta claimed. “Barcelona’s integrity cannot be bought or sold, and will not be tarnished. Recently there have been ferocious attacks attempting to dirty our badge that have nothing to do with reality. The board of directors of this club will defend it.”