Barcelona has been granted interim permission to compete in the Champions League despite a Uefa payment investigation.
Barcelona has been conditionally authorized to compete in the 2023-24 Champions League, despite a Uefa probe into suspicions that the club paid a referees’ boss.
The governing body of European football announced in March that it was investigating reports of bribes made by Barcelona for favorable refereeing rulings.
Barcelona has categorically rejected any wrongdoing.
While Barcelona has been permitted to play in Europe, Uefa has reserved the possibility to sanction the club in the future.
The Uefa probe occurred after the Barcelona public prosecutor’s office launched a criminal investigation on March 10.
Barcelona allegedly paid 8.4 million euros (£7.4 million) to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee, and his Dasnil 95 company.
Barcelona, past club officials, and Negreira were all charged with “corruption”, “breach of trust”, and “false business records”.
“The investigators in charge of the case are invited to continue and finalize their investigation and to send a further report to the appeals body if and when they believe that the admission/exclusion of FC Barcelona [from the Champions League] should be assessed,” Uefa said.
What is the purpose of the investigation into Barcelona?
The payments were discovered in February by radio station Ser Catalunya as a result of a tax inquiry against Negreira’s company Dasnil 95.
Barcelona paid the firm 1.4 million euros (£1.2 million) between 2016 and 2018, and paid Negreira, 77, almost 7 million euros (£6.2 million) between 2001 and 2018, the year he quit the referees’ committee.
Barca admitted to paying Dasnil 95, which it characterized as a “external technical consultant,” to produce video reports on professional referees “in order to supplement the information required by the coaching staff.”
It went on to say that contracting the reports was “a common practice among professional clubs.”
The scandal erupted when 18 of La Liga’s 20 clubs published a statement expressing “deep concern” about the situation, and Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced that the club will initiate an internal probe into the payments.