March 30, 2023

Dubai Week

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Laporta confirms Barcelona “never bought referees”.

Barcelona president Joan Laborta confirmed on Tuesday that his club “never buys referees”, revealing his consideration of extending his coach Xavi’s contract amid investigations into his alleged payments to a former referee.

Reports last month indicated that the Catalan club paid 6.5 million euros ($6.9 million) between 2001 and 2018 to an affiliate of Jose María Enriquez Negrera, the former vice-president of the technical refereeing committee.

Barcelona initially said Negrera was being paid for reports and advice on referees.

Spanish prosecutors are investigating the payments and El Pais newspaper said on Tuesday that Barcelona were to be reported for “sustained sporting corruption”.

“Let’s make it clear that Barcelona never bought referees and Barca never had any intention of buying referees,” Laporta said during an event in Barcelona.

“The power of facts disproves those who try to change the narrative. We’re doing a good job again – nothing is accidental.”

Last month, Laborta launched a violent attack on Javier Tebas, the president of the Spanish Football League, accusing him of “creating a campaign against Barcelona”.

He continued, “There is a campaign that harms the interests of Barcelona. It is a campaign aimed at controlling the club. La Liga does not accept that Barcelona did not sign the contract with the CVC (investment fund) that manages it.”

And Debas felt Laborta should resign, “if he doesn’t explain well or more logically why” the club paid this money to Enriques Negrera.

Elsewhere, Laporta said it would consider extending coach Xavi Hernandez’s contract, with the team currently nine points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga standings and on course to win the league title from 2019. Xavi’s current contract. Expires in June 2024.

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In this regard, he added, “Someone who doesn’t listen to impossible and crazy things, who understands the (financial) situation of the club. I thought about renewing Xavi’s contract.”

He expressed his desire to renew the contract of captain Sergio Busquets, which expires in June 2023.

He said, “He’s an indispensable player in the dressing room (…) and is very well involved in Xavi’s style of play, which he wants to continue… We will make him a firm proposal soon.”