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FC Barcelona received profile of match officials before each domestic fixture

Witnesses tell prosecutors that a company belonging to ex-vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees, José María Enríquez Negreira, delivered a report and a DVD ahead of Barça and Barça B games

A referee shows a red card to Barcelona's Sergi Roberto.
A referee shows a red card to Barcelona's Sergi Roberto.ALBERT GEA (Reuters)

The company owned by the former vice-president of the Spanish Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), José María Enríquez Negreira, delivered an envelope to the club’s offices every time FC Barcelona were scheduled to play a Liga or Copa del Rey fixture.

The envelope contained a written report and a DVD analyzing the profile and behavior on the pitch of the referee who was to oversee the next match. The material was transferred to the Barcelona coaching staff, who decided if it was useful with a view to the upcoming match.

These deliveries took place every week ahead of games played by FC Barcelona and its reserve team, Barça B, as detailed by two club witnesses during statements at the Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office, judicial sources told EL PAÍS.

A tax audit revealed that Dasnil, a company owned by Enríquez Negreira, received €1.4 million in payments from FC Barcelona between 2016 and 2018. The former referee explained to tax inspectors that he did not have documentation to back up the existence of those services because the “technical advice” was provided verbally, not in writing. He said that the club had requested his services to “ensure that no decisions were made against it” and that the club would receive “neutral” treatment from match officials. The lack of specific evidence about these services made the Tax Agency suspicious, and prosecutors were alerted.

The payments under scrutiny by the Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office were made during the Camp Nou presidency of Josep Maria Bartomeu. But all the legal and sports sources consulted by this newspaper said that these services had been contracted for two decades. According to these sources, under the presidencies of Joan Gaspart, Joan Laporta and Sandro Rosell, the club hired the services of Dasnil, owned by Enríquez Negreira, who simultaneously served as vice-president of the CTA, the governing body of Spanish Football Federation match officials.

Everything changed in 2018. The Tax Agency communicated its suspicions about the invoices to Barça, which dispensed with Dasnil in June, a month before Enríquez Negreira left his position on the CTA. By then, the Dasnil executive in charge of liaising with the club was no longer the veteran ex-referee but his son Javier Enríquez, a sports coach who has been the sole administrator of the company since 2004.

Father and son: two different versions

Javier Enríquez is one of several people who, throughout the months-long investigation, has been called to testify before the National Police Force by order of the Prosecutor’s Office. The son denied the father’s version, stating that the reports were delivered in writing, while defending the validity of his work with Barça, which represented practically the entirety of Dasnil’s income. Two members of Bartomeu’s team who also testified as witnesses have ratified that version. According to their account, it was Javier and not the former CTA vice president who was in touch with the club, at least during that stage.

Every week, according to the statements, the company delivered an envelope with the material. There was a written report analyzing the behavior of the referee on the pitch in previous games as one more variable that had to be taken into account. The reports were technical in nature: how the referee reacted to certain pressure situations, or whether or not he was permissive over physical contact before issuing the first card. The DVD contained edited images of the same referee, analyzing his past performances and the decisions he made during specific passages of play. All this material was forwarded on to Barcelona’s coaching and technical staff.

According to witness testimony, the envelopes were delivered a few days before matches played by both Barça and its reserve team. The analyses explored the behavior of Spanish referees during domestic league and cup matches but they never dealt with referees officiating in European competitions, said the witnesses.

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