Real Madrid to take action against Barcelona over payouts

MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid will take on Barcelona in a lawsuit the rival faces over its…

MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid will oppose Barcelona in a lawsuit the rival faces over millions of euros in payments over several years to a company owned by the vice president of Spain’s soccer referees committee, Madrid said Sunday after an emergency meeting board.

The decision came two days after the prosecutor’s office officially accused Barcelona allegations of corruption in sports, fraud and falsification of commercial documents. The investigating judge decides whether the prosecution should be pursued.

“Real Madrid wants to express its deep concern at the seriousness of the facts and reiterates its confidence in the legal system,” Madrid said. the statement said after the board meeting. “The club has agreed that in defense of its legal rights it will appear in court if the judge makes it open to the injured parties.”

It was the first time Madrid had officially weighed in on the issue. Other clubs have already raised their concerns about Barcelona’s payments, as have the Spanish league and the Spanish Football Federation. The league also planned to take legal action against Barcelona.

Barcelona president Jaan Laporta said fans should remain “calm”.

“Barça is not guilty of the accusations made against it and is the victim of a campaign in which everyone is now involved to damage its pride.” Laporta said on Twitter. “It is not surprising, and we will defend Barça and prove that the club is innocent. Many will be forced to make amends.”

Laporta himself was not among those charged by prosecutors on Friday.

Barcelona have been under scrutiny since payments to a committee official came to light last month. The payments were initially investigated as part of the company’s tax investigation.

Barcelona has consistently denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid for referees’ technical reports but never tried to influence their decisions in games.

In court documents seen by The Associated Press, prosecutors said the club paid 7.3 million euros ($7.7 million) between 2001 and 2018. They added that this “amount is not justified, as it was not provided for by the club’s charter and was not approved by its general meeting (of club members).”

The prosecutor’s office alleged that the former vice president of the committee, José María Enriquez Negreiro, “in exchange for money, performed actions aimed at the benefit of Barcelona football club in the process of decision-making by referees in games played by Barcelona and in the results of competitions.”

So far, there is no evidence that the referees or the results of the game were actually affected.


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