UEFA opened an official investigation into FC Barcelona over the "Negreira case," the European soccer governing body announced on Thursday morning. UEFA issued an official statement saying that "UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called 'Caso Negreira'. Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course."
It's not clear yet what potential conclusions or consequences this action will bring to the Spanish club. Spanish prosecutors have filed corruption charges against Barcelona and former club presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu for allegedly making payments to a company owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, an ex-vice president of the referee committee in Spain who worked under the Spanish football association between 1993 and 2018. Former club executives Oscar Grau and Albert Soler have also been listed in the case.
The public prosecutor's office investigating the case revealed that Negreira received approximately over €7 million in payments from the club between 2001 and 2018 to influence match results. Their claim is that under a secret agreement and in exchange for payments, Negreira favored Barcelona in both decisions taken by referees in games played by the club as well as in competition results. If this is proven to be true, this could become one of the major earthquakes in the recent history of the club.
Barca have maintained their innocence and vowed to "take legal action against those who damage the club's image with possible insinuations contrary to the reputation of the institution which could be produced based on this information."
The UEFA investigation is the third one after the Spanish tax office has been investigating Negreira over missed tax payments, while the Anti-Corruption Department has launched an investigation on the basis of "continuous corruption."