Premier League

9 key figures on Barcelona’s referee scandal: ‘Relegation may occur’

Xavi Hernandez celebrates scoring for Barcelona in 2011.

There’s only one story in Spanish football right now – the charges against Barcelona for corruption over payments the club made to a former vice-president of Spain’s referees’ committee.

It emerged last month that Barca paid Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira and a company he owns a reported total of €8.4m euros (£7.4m) between 2001 and 2018.

And, despite the club currently sitting eight points clear at the top of La Liga, there remains the possibility that Barcelona could be relegated for the first time in the club’s history if found guilty in the Spanish courts.

We’ve done some digging to reveal what nine key figures have said about the scandal that’s rocked Spain.


Xavi, who won eight La Liga titles with Barcelona as a player between 1998 and 2015, said he had no knowledge of the payments and never had the feeling his team had any advantage.

“I always wanted to win, but fairly. If I thought we were cheating I’d have gone home,” he said after the 2-2 draw with Manchester United in the Europa League last month.

But Spanish fans have enjoyed goading Barcelona about their potential relegation over the scandal.

“I was surprised at the hostile atmosphere towards Barca,” Xavi said after the win at Athletic Bilbao on March 12. “It was sad to see.

“[Barca] are being judged before time, which I don’t think is good for society. Everyone is free to [air their opinion], and I respect all opinions, whether I agree with them or not, but it made me sad.”

And Xavi also recently revealed the impact the current furore was having upon his person.

“I am constantly judged,” Xavi said last week. “It’s tough because I have a family and young children. There are many moments in which it doesn’t pay to be the Barca coach — especially if you’re a fan like me.

“It’s really hard when they say you are no good or you don’t have any character. Sometimes you don’t see it and a friend calls up to tell you you’re being killed.

“The worst days of my life have been as coach of Barca. I have wondered if it is worth it. I don’t need money … but I am a Barca fan, this is my club and I want to help.”

READ: 17 of the best quotes on Xavi: ‘There will be Before Xavi and After Xavi’

Joan Laporta

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