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HomeSportsWhat Are Real Madrid's Views On The Corruption Allegations Against Barcelona?

What Are Real Madrid’s Views On The Corruption Allegations Against Barcelona?

On February 15, it was reported that prosecutors were looking into payments made by Barcelona to a guy who was vice-president of the officiating committee for Spanish football at the time.

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After a little more than a month, Barca has been accused of corruption in regard to José Maria Enriquez Negreira, who collected €7.3 million (£6.4 million; $7.8 million) from the team between 2001 and 2018. Both parties have asserted their innocence.

Spain’s media landscape has been dominated by the Negreira case. There has been a tidal wave of outrage since many people believe it to be the largest scandal to ever affect the national game. Real Madrid, though, was slow to express their opinions.

The La League winners held off on releasing any sort of public statement for nine days. When they did, it was delivered by legendary former player and current director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno. Even then, it was merely to mention the need to wait a little longer.

On February 25, Butragueno said after Real Madrid drew with Atletico Madrid at home: “We must respect the times of justice and now must wait for the end of the public prosecutor’s office investigations.”

Four days prior, a more intriguing development had occurred, suggesting that Madrid might be keeping quiet for a reason.

To inform them of the new salary caps for each club, La Liga had an internal meeting with all of the participating teams on Monday, February 21. As one might anticipate, discussions about the Negreira case were quickly brought up.

The delegate committee for La Liga, made up of 14 clubs from the top and bottom divisions, then issued a statement expressing “great concern” on the incident. Also, it stated that just two clubs had rejected an attempt to produce a joint statement, although it did not name them.

Barcelona and Real Madrid were them.

Commentators were quick to point out that there could be a number of reasons for this, including the fact that these days, despite their long-standing fierce rivalry, Barca and Madrid can frequently be found aligned in search of shared interests such as the European Super League and their opposition to La Liga.

La Liga sources, who wished to remain anonymous when speaking with The Athletic, are firmly of the opinion that Madrid wanted to avoid any action that may harm their relationship with Barca due to these connections.

Insiders close to A22 Sports, the organization behind the European Super League initiative endorsed by Barcelona and Madrid, told this reporter, they saw no potential impact from escalating hostilities between the clubs on their ambitions.

After learning about Barcelona’s payments to Enriquez Negreira, we sent Madrid a number of requests for comment, but has received essentially no response.

Three and a half weeks after the initial reports surfaced, they didn’t produce a club statement until last weekend.

After it was clear that Barca would be charged, things just really began to pick up speed. That happened on March 10’s Friday. Prior to the start of Real Madrid’s home game against Espanyol on Saturday afternoon, club president Florentino Perez called an emergency board meeting to determine their next course of action.

What, then, was occurring behind the scenes at this time? Had they simply been putting it off till they had more information to share?

Likewise, club insiders who often respond favorably to requests for comment declined to respond to our communications.

But an intriguing assessment of Madrid’s apparent tactic came from a La Liga source, who conjectured that the team only operated as it did because it was afraid of retribution from fans if it did not.

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It should be emphasized once more that La Liga and Madrid (as with Barcelona) do not currently have the best of connections. Madrid tries to stay as far away from La Liga as possible. The club sees itself at odds with the body that oversees competitions because it is opposed to the Super League. Yet Madrid supporters had undoubtedly been heard.

On March 2, as Barcelona arrived for the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal, there had been fan demonstrations at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Madrid supporters hurling fictitious €500 bills into the night sky.

It was but one example of the passionate response the incident has elicited from Madrid’s fan base. Real Madrid TV’s programming has followed suit, focusing in recent weeks on officiating decisions made in Barca matches throughout the years.

Yet, there was no response from the club itself.

Last Saturday, as Madrid defeated Espanyol 3-1, both the home and away supporters continued to yell insults at Barcelona and other people connected to the Negreira incident.

Nevertheless, on Sunday, after an hour-long discussion at their sporting facility in Valdebebas, Madrid declared their desire to take part in the case. Madrid has stated that they always intended to decide their next course of action only when such action had been approved by the courts. The club claims that it is taking this action in order to support the legal system and acquire access to information and case facts that would not otherwise be made public.

Executives from Barcelona learned of Madrid’s intentions hours before kickoff of their away match against Athletic Bilbao. The Athletic received the following assessment from Barcelona insiders, who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect their roles: that such a move would not significantly affect relations and that there was no intention to comment.

Joan Laporta, the president of Barca, tweeted shortly after that: “Barca is innocent of the accusations made and is the victim of a campaign that now involves everyone to tarnish its honor.”

The next day, Laporta addressed an emotionally charged and populist address to his club’s fans, deploring the “ferocious attacks directed at us to muddy our image”.

I’m not acting emotional as a sign of weakness, he continued. I am overcome with emotion as I eagerly anticipate confronting the scoundrels who are defaming our club and badge.

The two clubs will once again face off against each other when they play on Sunday. They will have similar business interests and growth aspirations. There are little indications of a significant rupture in ties, despite the tone taken by Laporta or the Madrid supporters who have been protesting since their home game against Elche on February 15.

Yet, there have been a couple more unsettling reverberations. First off, there’s a significant probability the customary lunch between the two boards won’t take place.

Although there were no such plans for a supper when Madrid sources revealed their travel arrangements to this paper on Thursday, they did state that an invitation would be welcomed if Barcelona sent one. Also, they cited other instances in the past where a board lunch was not hosted but a lot of games were played in a short period of time. The second of three Clasicos over a five-week period will take place on Sunday.

According to some sources, Barca would only have a supper with their Madrid counterparts provided they made a public apology, albeit they haven’t said just what they should be sorry for.

The match officials for Sunday’s game were also revealed on Thursday.

Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea, the referee, is not connected to the present scandal but is undoubtedly aware that Madrid has been dissatisfied with some of his previous Clasico rulings.

His debut came in the 2017 Supercopa de Espaa’s opening round. At the Santiago Bernabeu, that evening at Camp Nou is remembered for two things: a penalty that Luis Suarez received that Madrid feels shouldn’t have been awarded, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo being sent off after pushing the referee in protest of his call.

De Burgos Bengoetxea presided over another Clasico, the Supercopa final in January, which Barca won convincingly 3-1. Madrid feels that Ronald Araujo ought to have been dismissed for the game’s opening violent tackle on Vinicius Junior.

De Burgos Bengoetxea served as the VAR in a La Liga Clasico in December 2018 in the interim. Madrid recalls that he declined to give Raphael Varane’s opponents two penalties that they believed should have been issued.

He’ll face a lot of pressure at Camp Nou, according to a Madrid source. I’m hoping it won’t affect anything and he can whistle peacefully.



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