UEFA to investigate alleged Barcelona referee payments claim

UEFA to investigate alleged Barcelona referee payments claim

UEFA will investigate allegations that Barcelona made payments to referees' committee member Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.

Reports last month claimed the club paid companies owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira 7million euros (£6.2million) between 2001 and 2018.

Negreira was the vice-president of the Spanish football federation's refereeing committee from 1993-2018.

Barca could face corruption charges in court over the allegations after Spanish prosecutors filed a complaint earlier this month.

Now football's European governing body has announced it will also be investigating the claims.

A statement on Thursday read: "In accordance with article 31(4) of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called 'Caso Negreira'."

Barca have previously denied wrongdoing.

A statement said they had paid an external consultant for "technical reports related to professional refereeing", arguing it was common practice in the game.

President Joan Laporta said: "Barca have never bought referees nor influence. That was never the intention and that has to be clear. The facts contradict those that are trying to tell a different story."