Laporta claims La Liga President is promoting scandal against Barca

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Joan Laporta claims that La Liga Chief Javier Tebas is trying to tarnish the club image amid on going investigation on Barcelona.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has claimed LaLiga chief Javier Tebas is obsessed with trying to stain the club’s image during the league’s ongoing investigation into the club’s payments made to a former senior referee.

Laporta was responding after Tebas said he should resign if he was unable to offer a reasonable explanation regarding the payments.

“Mr Tebas has come to the fore again,” Laporta said in an event at Camp Nou on Tuesday. “We had been warned that he is promoting a campaign against Barca and against me as a person … now the mask has come off.

“His obsession with Barca continues. I want to remind you that he is someone that has shown throughout his career that he is anti-Barcelona. In 2005, he didn’t want [Lionel] Messi to play for Barca and fought [his registration], for example. He has not forgiven us for not signing the agreement with CVC — when we signed much better agreements for the club. He also can’t stand the Super League.

“Mr Tebas has now said that I should step down. His intention is to control Barca from afar. He is always trying to destabilise us. What do I say to him? That I won’t give him the pleasure. Barcelona is owned by the members.

“He will receive a strong response. The club and its history is forged through hard work and spectacular football. We will not allow these attempts to dirty our brilliant history to prosper.”

According to a tax investigation, Barca paid over €1.3 million to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira — who was the vice president of the referees committee at the time — between 2016 and 2018, when Josep Maria Bartomeu was the club’s president.

However, while those are the only payments being investigated by the tax office, it has also been disclosed that Barca paid Negreira over €7m dating back to at least 2003, spanning multiple presidencies. Laporta’s first spell in office was from 2003 to 2010.

Barca said they had hired the company for “technical reports” on refereeing.

“If he does not explain what they were paying for, I think he should step down,” Tebas said on a call with reporters on Monday when asked if Laporta should resign. “He has not offered a reasonable explanation for these payments. In Barca’s statement, it was as if every football club does the same. It is evident they do not. One thing is to have ex-referees [offering advice]; another is to have ex-referees who are on the refereeing committee.

“[Laporta] will have to explain why, in his first spell as president, he did this. It is something I would like cleared up. It’s not just the three seasons [being investigated by the tax office], it’s many more.”

Meanwhile, LaLiga clubs issued a statement on Tuesday in which they expressed deep concern over the case.

Barca’s payments to Negreira stopped in 2018. El Mundo reported last week that Negreira then threatened to reveal “irregularities” if they did not resume them. He never did. A further report in El Mundo on Tuesday also suggested he attempted to blackmail the Royal Spanish Football Federation when he was released in 2018.

In his testimony as part of the case, he told investigators he provided “verbal consultancy” and that he had never benefited Barcelona or had been responsible for assigning them referees.

“Barca wanted to ensure that refereeing decisions were not taken against them,” he said, per the inspector’s report. “That is to say, that everything was neutral.”

 

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