- Payments revealed across several years
- Rivals uniting against Catalan giants
- Blaugrana prepared for court battle
WHAT HAPPENED? The Liga giants have become caught up in a corruption storm after it was revealed that payments were made to former vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA), Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, between 2001 and 2018. Domestic rivals, including Clasico foes Real Madrid, have rallied against Barca – accusing them of buying favour among match officials – but the Catalan giants maintain their innocence and Laporta has vowed to defend the team’s honour in court.
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Laporta said at an event for the captains of Barcelona’s various sports clubs – including Sergio Busquets and Alexia Putellas: “I can’t wait to face all the scoundrels who are staining our badge. Barca is a club with values. We use the word values not to look good, but because values really are a fundamental part of our sporting excellence model. And that is why Barca is admired and recognised throughout the world. It also happens that some, motivated by envy, try to erode our reputation with campaigns carried out in bad faith. Barcelona sentiment cannot be bought or sold but it cannot be sullied either. And recently, and I take advantage of the fact that people who love the club are gathered together, there have been some ferocious attacks to stain our shield, which have nothing to do with reality. And you can be sure that in the board of directors that I have the honour of chairing we will defend it with all our strength.”
WHAT NEXT? Laporta closed his speech, when on the verge of tears, by saying: “Don’t think that I am getting emotional out of weakness, I am emotional because I really want to face all the scoundrels that are staining our shield. Let no one think that it is due to weakness.” Barca are currently nine points clear at the top of La Liga and are due to play host to arch-rivals Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday.