Barcelona President Joan Laporta confirmed on Tuesday that his club had “never bought referees” amid investigations into his alleged payments to a former referee, revealing that he was considering extending the contract of his coach Xavi.
Reports last month indicated that the Catalan club paid 6.5 million euros between 2001 and 2018 to a company belonging to the former vice-president of the technical arbitration committee, Jose Maria Enriques Negrera.
Barcelona initially revealed that Negrera was being paid for reports and advice on referees.
Spanish prosecutors are investigating the payments and El Pais newspaper said on Tuesday they intended to report Barcelona “for continued sporting corruption”.
“Let’s make it clear that Barcelona never bought referees, and Barca never had any intention of buying referees, ever,” Laporta said during an event in Barcelona.
“The power of facts belies those who try to change the story. We’re doing a good job again – nothing is accidental.”
Last month, Laporta launched a violent attack on Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish Football League, accusing him of “fabricating a campaign against Barcelona.”
He continued, “There is a campaign to harm Barcelona’s interests. It is a campaign aimed at controlling the club. La Liga does not accept that Barcelona did not sign the contract with the CVC (investment fund) that it manages itself.”
And Tebas considered that Laporta should resign “if he did not explain well or in a more logical way why” the club paid this money to Enriques Negrera.
In another context, Laporta said that he is considering extending coach Xavi Hernandez’s contract, as the team currently leads the La Liga standings, nine points behind Real Madrid, and appears on the right path to winning its first league title since 2019, and Xavi’s current contract expires in June 2024.
He added in this regard, “He is a man who does not ask for impossible and crazy things and understands the (financial) situation of the club. I thought about renewing Xavi’s contract.”
He also expressed his desire to renew captain Sergio Busquets’ contract, which expires in June 2023.
He said, “He is an essential player in the dressing room (…) and is very well involved in Xavi’s style of play, which he wants to continue… We will soon make him a concrete proposal.”