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Controversy grows over investigation into Barcelona

Controversy over a probe into football club Barcelona grew Tuesday as figures affiliated with the Spanish powerhouse weighed in on allegations that it received information about referees in exchange for payments. 

In a radio show, former Barcelona player Gerard Pique dismissed the claims and said they overshadowed none of the team’s sporting achievements.

“Barcelona did not buy the referee,” Pique said, adding he would vouch for the club’s conduct on the matter.

In an interview, Barcelona’s President Joan Laporta attributed the allegations to jealousy and malicious intent towards the club. 

“I can’t wait to face all those scoundrels who are tarnishing our badge. There are some ferocious attacks to sully our badge, which have nothing to do with reality,” said Laporta.

“Some are motivated by envy. They are trying to erode our reputation with malicious campaigns. Barca is a club with values. That’s why Barca is admired and known all over the world,” he added.

Barcelona’s arch rival Real Madrid issued a statement on the issue on Sunday.

Los Merengues expressed their deep concern about corruption in sports and the seriousness of circumstances. The Spanish club reiterated their full confidence in the action of justice.

The provincial prosecutor’s office in Barcelona has filed a criminal complaint against the Spanish football club, along with two former presidents and their executives, for paying a company owned by a former senior football official to obtain information about referees.

The club reportedly made the payments between 2016 and 2018 to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who was then thte vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

It is claimed that the club received information about the referees in exchange for €7.3 million ($7.8 million) in 2001-2018 and that it could be banned from the Champions League for the next season due to charges.

*Writing by Selcuk Bugra Gokalp

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