A total of 21 referees have given statements before the Civil Guard in the framework of the ‘Negreira case’ and have revealed details, until now unpublished, of how the historic number two referee operated. EL MUNDO has had access to all the statements, in which referees such as José Luis González González forcefully maintain that FC Barcelona hired the historic number two of the referees “to obtain some type of sporting benefit.”

This referee, who developed his career between 1988 and 2020, later moving to the VAR, was asked by the investigators to explain, in his opinion, the reason why the Barça club paid José María Enríquez Negreira and his son. “I understand that they would want to get some sporting benefit,” he stressed. “José María would make them understand,” he added, “that he had some power over the referees.”

In turn, this historic referee added that both Negreira father and his son “took advantage” of the former’s figure as vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) “to obtain an economic benefit” shared “with members of the club” that he presides. at the moment Joan Laporta.

In turn, González González calls the arbitration advisory reports prepared by Negreira Jr. for FC Barcelona “useless” and with which the entity is now trying to justify the payment of 8 million euros over two decades to Victoriano Sánchez’s number two. Arminius. “It was a mere procedure to justify the charges,” stressed this historic referee. “My opinion is that Enríquez Negreira reached an agreement with directors or members of FC Barcelona to benefit privately from these payments” and “distribute them among them.”

All the referees who have appeared before the Civil Guard agree, in general terms, that Negreira had power and influence in the CTA and that promotions and relegations in categories depended on him. Some describe him as a “strange” man who did not interact with any referee and explain that the arbitration board during his time punished critics within the union.

Along the same lines as González González, other teammates such as José María Sánchez Santos argue that Barça’s payments to the Negreira family “leave arbitration in a very bad place” and respond to the fact that the Catalan club “believed that with these hirings it could influence arbitrarily”. However, none of the referees who have declared confess to altering the result of any match at the direction of whoever was Sánchez Arminio’s right-hand man until 2018.

“A vice president has power within the CTA, since its members usually eat together, talk and give their opinions on everything,” adds another of the members questioned by the investigators. “The vice presidents have permanent contact with the president and that can ensure that decisions are made collegially.”

“If the CTA is a democratic establishment? Now something has changed, at least the referees are listened to, but before no one dared to complain or suggest something,” says referee Fernando Román, who has been in the profession for 22 years, who highlights that Negreira commanded “respect” because “he was the closest person to President Sánchez Arminio.”

“In the group it was said that if you hired his son (to do coaching work) you could be favored in promotions because the father took his son’s comments into account,” he adds.