According to a court document obtained by Reuters on Thursday, Spanish soccer club Barcelona is under investigation for suspected “active bribery” as part of a probe into potential corruption said to have occurred at the referee’s committee for 20 years.
According to the Barcelona court, police also examined the RFEF’s headquarters in Madrid on Thursday as part of their investigation into “possible systemic corruption” inside the Spanish refereeing committee.
Due to charges of sexual assault against former RFEF president Luis Rubiales, Spanish football, and the RFEF specifically, face some difficult decisions.
The controversy erupted when Rubiales kissed World Cup champion Jenni Hermoso on August 20, completely overshadowing Sydney’s women’s team victory and the refereeing incident. Rubiales left after that.
Barcelona is currently being investigated as a suspect in the refereeing case. In September, investigating judge Joaquin Aguirre Lopez said that the team may have benefitted from corruption.
Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the vice-president of the RFEF’s refereeing committee from 1993 to 2018, was allegedly paid more than 7.3 million euros ($7.8 million) during 17 years to companies he controlled. Prosecutors allegedly submitted a complaint about this in March.
Negreira is not reachable by Reuters. Barcelona and RFEF were unavailable for comment right away.
Barcelona has denied any wrongdoing, claiming in a statement in February that it had hired an outside consultant who provided it with “technical reports related to professional refereeing”—a process it claimed was typical among professional football clubs.
Real Madrid, Barcelona’s bitter rivals, had joined the lawsuit’s prosecution as a harmed party.
Judge Aguirre said Negreira was in charge of rating and assessing the referees. However, according to Aguirre in early September, there has been no proof yet that Negreira paid referees to sway game outcomes.