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

During his tenure in this institutional role, Enríquez Negreira’s company DASNIL 95 SL received payments from FC Barcelona.

Gorka LeizaDiarioAS

Ahead of El Clásico at Camp Nou, we take a look back at the Negreira case, or ‘Barçagate’.

After serving as a top-flight referee in the Spanish First Division for 13 seasons (1977-1992), José María Enríquez Negreira assumed the position of head of the Catalan Board of Referees following his retirement from the game. Later, he served as the vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees under Victoriano Sánchez Arminio until May 2018.

During his tenure in this institutional role, Enríquez Negreira’s company DASNIL 95 SL received payments from FC Barcelona totaling 1,392,680 euros over three seasons (2016, 2017, and 2018). Initially uncovered by Cadena SER Catalunya, and followed up by AS, an investigation into the alleged corruption offenses involving the parties involved is ongoing. The payments that are presently under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office are related to Josep Maria Bartomeu’s tenure as president of Barça.

Enríquez Negreira and Sánchez Arminio.
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Enríquez Negreira and Sánchez Arminio.JAVIER GANDULDIARIO AS

However, sources from both the sports and judicial communities agree that the services provided by DASNIL were contracted for a period of two decades. During the presidencies of Joan Gaspart, Joan Laporta, and Sandro Rosell, the club reportedly received “technical advice” from Enríquez Negreira’s company while he simultaneously served as the number two of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), which oversees match officials in Spanish professional soccer as a part of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). Former Barcelona director Josep Contreras has been tied to the payments.

Enríquez Negreira family dealings

In 2018, there was a significant shift in the situation. The Treasury raised suspicions regarding the invoices with Barcelona, which resulted in the club terminating its relationship with DASNIL in June of that year. Enríquez Negreira also stepped down from his position on the Committee the following month. It was at this time that the company’s dealings with Barcelona were no longer managed by Enríquez Negreira, but rather his son, Javier Enríquez. Javier has been the sole administrator of the company since 2004 and is also a sports coach.

At the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, Javier Enríquez provided testimony to the National Police. He refuted his father’s account and maintained that the reports were delivered in writing, as confirmed by sources within the club. Additionally, Javier defended the quality of the work he performed for Barcelona, which constituted the majority of DASNIL’s revenue. Two members of Bartomeu’s team provided testimony to the police as witnesses and corroborated Javier’s statements, attesting that he, and not his father, was responsible for dealing with the club, at least at that time.

Multiple Barçagate questions remain

Apart from the issues regarding the legality of the contracts and the exorbitant market price that was paid for “technical advice,” the greater concern is the negative impact on Barcelona’s reputation. Neither the club nor the referees committee has been able to provide a satisfactory explanation, which has only served to further undermine Barcelona’s image.

Real Madrid take legal action

Real Madrid, after initially remaining tight-lipped, released a statement, saying: “Real Madrid expresses its deep concern about the seriousness of the facts and reiterates its full confidence in the action of justice and has agreed that, in defense of its legitimate interests, it will appear in the procedure as soon as the judge opens it to the parties harmed.”

The statement came only a day after the club released a statement, where president Florentino Pérez called for a meeting of the Board of Directors about the issue.


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