Ex-Referee claims Vice-President at heart of Barcelona corruption investigation threatened him by phone

Former La Liga referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez has claimed he was threatened by the former Vice-President of the Referees Technical Committee (CTA), Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. The latter is at the heart of a corruption scandal that has sullied the image of Spanish football in recent years.

Enriquez Negreira was paid between €6-7m over a period of 17 years by Barcelona between 2001 and 2018, when he was sacked by the CTA. Barcelona have been charged with corruption and bribery, but are yet to be found guilty of anything, and have denied all wrongdoing.

Estrada Fernandez, who refereed for 17 years professionally, including 12 years in La Liga between 2009 and 2021, has released a book on the matter titled ‘The Truth about Negreira’ this week, in which he claims he was threatened by his former boss via phone call.

“Negreira had all the power. Being the Vice-President of the Referees for so many years, he had all the referee information. He could designate relegations, promotions and who officiated the games. When he appointed me as an international referee, he called me to threaten me for asking for my own team of assistants. You have to understand that I come from zero and  was doing it just for the passion for refereeing. When something like this happens to you, you think about a lot of things.”

The CTA, primarily through President Luis Medina Cantalejo, have denied that Negreira had any decision-making power, claiming that his role was for the most part decorative. Estrada disputed that, saying there was clear difference between his mandate and that of his successor Carlos Velasco Carballo.

“It is evident that Negreira controlled the promotions and relegations. Before the arrival of Velasco Carballo, the list went by score. Then it was in alphabetical order and that score was not visible.”

However he told Diario AS that he did not believe that the referees had been corrupt in their officiating, in spite of Negreira’s threats.

“Here we must distinguish between a club’s payments to a vice president and the work of the referees. When the case explodes, I begin to interweave information, connect the dots with what others had said, and try to defend the honour of the group. There is a figure here [around which this revolves] which that is that of the assembly member.”

Finally he declared that his former colleagues were holding their silence out of fear.

“Of course active referees are afraid to speak. How can they not be afraid if the president of the arbitration delegation received the request for my head.”

The case is still being investigated by the police and state prosecution, as they gather evidence in order to bring the matter to trial.

Tags Barcelona cantalej Caso Negreira CTA Enriquez Negreira RFEF
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