Barcelona to be accused of corruption for payments

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By Associated Press

BARCELONA: Prosecutors will accuse Spanish soccer club Barcelona of corruption because of its payments to the vice president of the refereeing committee, the daily newspaper El Pais reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors did not immediately confirm the accusations and said nothing had been filed yet. El Pais said it made the report based on unnamed sources close to the matter.

Barcelona has been under scrutiny since it became public the club made millions of dollars in payments over several years to a company that belonged to the vice president of the Spanish federation’s refereeing committee. The payments, which have yet to be linked to any illegal or improper activity by the club, were initially investigated as part of a tax probe into the company.

The Spanish league and the Spanish federation have been looking into the matter. Barcelona said it hired an independent firm to carry out its own investigation.

The league had said sporting sanctions against Barcelona were not possible because the statute of limitations on the irregularities have expired. Other Spanish league clubs had expressed their concerns about the payments.

Barcelona has denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.

Getting reports on referees is common practice and clubs can pay other companies or have them prepared internally, as Barcelona now does.