Spanish federation sides against Barcelona over payments

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish football federation has joined the long list of entities deciding to take legal action against Barcelona in the corruption case.

Prosecutors last week formally accused Barcelona of alleged corruption, fraudulent management and falsification of documentation in regard to payments of millions of euros for more than a decade to a company that belonged to the vice president of the country’s refereeing committee.

A judge ordered the accusations to be investigated, and prosecutors specialised in anticorruption were handling the case.

Others siding against the club include the Spanish government, the Spanish league, Real Madrid and more clubs. They will all be accusing parties in the proceedings over the controversial payments that have shocked Spanish football.

The federation said on Thursday it sent a report to UEFA about why it was going against Barcelona. It said it has been contributing with authorities, and has started its own investigation.

It called for “serenity” in the world of football to “help reduce the tensions" surrounding the refereeing collective in Spain.

“This is not beneficial for football,” the federation said. “Justice requires time, and the alleged illegal actions must be proven.”

Barcelona's payments became public last month. The club has denied wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.

Club president Joan Laporta said Barcelona was “the victim of a campaign to harm its honourability.”

Prosecutors said in court documents seen by the Associated Press that the payments by the club totalled up to 7.3 million euros ($7.7 million) from 2001-18. They said the “quantity was not justified because it was not foreseen in the statutes of the club nor approved by its general assembly (of club members).”

There is so far no evidence that referees or game results were actually influenced during the period in which Barcelona made the payments.

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