Laporta hits back at 'obsessed' Tebas amid Barcelona ref controversy

AFP , Tuesday 21 Feb 2023

Barcelona president Joan Laporta hit back at La Liga chief Javier Tebas on Tuesday amid the controversy over his club's payments to a refereeing executive.

 Joan Laporta
FC Barcelona club President Joan Laporta pauses during a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, on Aug. 6, 2021. AP


Tebas claimed Monday Laporta should resign if he could not explain Barcelona's reported seven million euros ($7.46 million) in outgoings between 2001 and 2018 to a company belonging to former refereeing technical committee (CTA) vice-president Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.

Barcelona initially said Negreira was being paid for reports and advice on referees, which are now compiled internally.

Laporta confirmed that before criticising Tebas.

"Some had already warned us that it seemed Tebas was pushing a reputational campaign against Barça and against me," Laporta told reporters at Camp Nou.

"The mask has come off, he continues with his obsession with Barca, with his fear of our club."

Laporta recalled Tebas, when legal adviser to Alaves in 2005, tried to report former Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for playing without the correct documentation.

The Barcelona president also said his club's unwillingness to sign La Liga's deal with CVC and determination to found a European Super League also played a role in his "obsession" with the Catalan club.

"His intention is to dominate Barca from a distance, which is what he has been doing in recent years," added Laporta.

"He has realised that he can't do that with me as president. I will not give Mr. Tebas what he'd like by stepping down as president of Barcelona.

"That is for the club's members to decide. Anyone who tries to tarnish the history and image of Barcelona will receive a strong response."

Laporta said an investigaiton into the payments to former CTA vice-president Negreira was being conducted externally, while the club would also run their own enquiry.

The Barcelona president explained that in his first spell in charge, between 2003 and 2010, the services the club required from Negreira -- reports and videos -- were invoiced "on the basis of demonstrable services".

Tebas previously explained La Liga could not punish Barcelona in sporting terms for the payments because sanctions were only possible within three years of the events having occurred.

"It's one thing to use former referees, but it's another to use an ex-referee who (was) still active in the technical committee of referees," he said Monday.

"An explanation must be given."

Negreira left his post in the CTA in 2018.

La Liga published a statement Tuesday saying all but two clubs in the division -- reported to be Barcelona and Real Madrid -- and Spain's second tier had "expressed their deep concern" about the "Negreira case".

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