Barcelona charged with corruption; Neymar undergoes surgery

Prosecutors sue Barcelona for allegedly buying refereeing favours

Spanish prosecutors have filed a complaint against Barcelona and two of the LaLiga club’s ex-presidents over alleged payments to a company owned by a senior refereeing official to influence match results, the public prosecutor’s office said on Friday.

A judge has yet to decide whether to take up the case.

The club allegedly paid over 7.3 million euros ($7.8 million) between 2001 and 2018 to firms owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, who was vice-president of the refereeing committee of the Spanish football association in 1993-2018.

Prosecutors claim that under a secret agreement and “in exchange for money”, Negreira favoured Barcelona “in the decisions taken by referees in the games played by the club, as well as in the results of the competitions”.

Barcelona did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The club denied wrongdoing in a statement last month, saying they had simply paid an external consultant that supplied them with “technical reports related to professional refereeing”, calling it “a common practice among professional football clubs”.

The complaint focuses on the 2.9 million euros paid between 2014 and 2018 and alleges that Barcelona – with the help of former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu – reached a “confidential verbal agreement” with Negreira.

It accuses the club, Rosell, Bartomeu, Negreira and two other former Barcelona officials of corruption in sports, unfair administration and falsehood in mercantile documents.

The investigation was triggered by a tax inspection. Negreira told the Spanish tax agency that Barcelona’s goal with the payments was to have “neutral” referees in their games, according to El Pais newspaper.

PSG’s Neymar undergoes ankle surgery

Paris St Germain’s Brazil forward Neymar has successfully undergone surgery on his right ankle, the Ligue 1 side announced on Friday.

Neymar, who has 13 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 this season, has not played since a 4-3 win over Lille last month, missing PSG’s last three games.

In a post on Instagram this week, Neymar vowed to “come back stronger” after his injury.

“Neymar Jr was successfully operated on late this morning at the Aspetar Hospital in Doha…,” PSG said in a statement.

The French champions did not provide a timeline for Neymar’s return, saying “the player will now follow a protocol of rest and treatment.”

Earlier this week, PSG said the injury will keep the Brazil international out for the rest of the season.

The 31-year-old has twice spent lengthy spells on the sidelines after sustaining metatarsal fractures before PSG’s last-16 tie against Real Madrid in 2019 and against Manchester United the following year, with the French side being knocked out of the Champions League on both occasions.

He did not feature in PSG’s 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, which eliminated them from the Champions League.

PSG are top of the league with an eight-point lead over second-placed Olympique de Marseille. They next travel to 15th-placed Brest on Saturday.

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