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Barcelona: Champions League ban on horizon after bribery charges

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The Catalans are subject to an ongoing investigation over their payments to a former refereeing official.

Barcelona could be “kicked out” of the Champions League after being officially charged with bribery.

The club allegedly paid 8.4m euros to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira and his Dasnil 95 company over the course of 17 years. Negreira is the former vice president of the referees’ committee, whose company was earlier investigated as part of a tax probe.

On Thursday, widespread reports in Spanish media claimed the case’s judge had charged Barcelona with “active bribery”. According to Marca, this charge could have more serious penalties compared to the earlier charges of corruption against the club.

Shortly after the news of the bribery charges broke, Spanish police raided the office of the referees’ committee as part of the investigation into the case.

Barcelona could face serious sporting and financial penalties if the judge eventually rules against them. According to Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol, being banned from the Champions League could be a real possibility for Barcelona as UEFA is also investigating the case.

In July, the European football governing body announced that Barcelona had received a “provisional” invitation to participate in the competition. However, it was emphasized that a final decision over their eligibility for participation in the Champions League remained pending.