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La Liga president Javier Tebas says Barcelona cannot be punished over referee payment allegations

Javier Tebas has revealed that La Liga cannot issue sporting punishments to Barcelona over payments made to a former refereeing administrator.

The Catalans reportedly paid Jose Maria Enriquez Negreir £1.3 million between 2016 and 2018. He was the vice president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) Referees Committee between 1994 and 2018.

The Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) is responsible for the appointment of match officials in La Liga.

Barca insist they only made payments to hire the services of an ‘external technical consultant’.

There have been suggestions that the Spanish club face harsh punishments, including a points deduction if found guilty.

However, Tebas says it is too late for that to happen.

“It’s clear that these services should never have been provided,” the La Liga chief told Cadena Ser.

“It won’t be possible for Barcelona to receive disciplinary sanctions. Five years have gone by and [the period in which to hand out] these types of sanctions expire after three years.

“On a sporting level, it isn’t possible, but it may be on a criminal level. The prosecutor’s office is looking into the facts to see whether a match-fixing crime has been committed by individuals. We’ll see how the investigation turns out.”

Josep Bartomeu was Barcelona’s president when the payments were made. He and some of his board members could face the music if found guilty.

Spain’s Ley del Deporte (Sports Law) prevents La Liga from taking any action against the league leaders. The news will come as a sigh of relief for the club and their fans.

Catalan police have concluded investigations into claims that Bartomeu paid journalists through third-party companies.

They claim that he indeed contracted I3 Ventures to improve Barca’s image on social media and also launch a smear campaign against some of their players at the time.

The Prosecutor’s Office has also begun investigating the latest scandal to hit the club.

Things are not looking good, but only individuals will be punished if found guilty.

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