In it Negreira case there are two seemingly secondary characters who, however, have an important role in the story. One is the son of the former arbitration manager, the sports coach Javier Enríquez, who between 2015 and 2018 also received payment from FC Barcelona although, in his case and unlike his father, for real work: reports on referees that have been accredited. The other is the former director of the Barça club Josep Contreras, who died last December, who opened the doors of the club to the coach in exchange, yes, for a generous commission.
Between 2001 and 2018, while he was vice president of the Arbitration Technical Committee (CTA), José María Enríquez Negreira received a total of 7.3 million euros from Barça. Negreira charged for alleged verbal advice that did not exist. The Prosecutor’s Office suspects that, by paying, the club sought to influence the referees and rig the competition. Hence, I accuse him of a crime of corruption in the sports field. In 2015, Negreira went a step further and transferred to his son a supposed interest from Barça in hiring him to prepare, due to his professional experience (Javier Enríquez was a player, referee and coach) reports on the referees.
Javier Enríquez’s statement before the Prosecutor’s Office, included in the summary of the Negreira case to which EL PAÍS has accessed, sheds light on this subplot. As he explained, the person who introduced him to the club was Josep Contreras, a man historically linked to the Barça team and especially to Barça B. Contreras told him that he could not charge directly from the club, but through a company he owned, Tresep . And that the reports should be “delivered” personally to him, that he would transfer them to the club.
The reason that Contreras gave him was that it was necessary to “save face and avoid misunderstandings due to the fact that the son of the vice president of the CTA worked for the FCB”, according to the statement of the 50-year-old coach, who stated that he did not know what was the exact link between Contreras and FC Barcelona. Before the Treasury, he said it even more clearly: the former manager told him that the hiring would be indirect so as “not to link the club to the last name” of his father.
The pretext is loaded with irony considering that the relationship with the father dated back to at least 2001, when the first invoices from their companies, Dasnil and Nilsad, appeared. Converted into a commission agent, Contreras “set the price of the reports”, which the coach delivered before each game and for which he received “between 6,000 and 7,000 euros per month” through his company, Soccercam. The payment was received from Tresep (Contreras), who kept a generous commission.
The investigation has proven that Tresep paid Soccercam 297,085 euros, although it later billed Barça 450,120 euros. In other words, and as the Police concluded, the Contreras commission represented an extra expense for the club of 153,034 euros. The police conclude that the coach had to be unaware that his father was paid by the club. Had he known, the agents argue, he “would not have accepted to invoice the club through an intermediary since the surname and the FCB were already related.” Javier Enríquez would have obtained, in addition, “a greater amount for his work.”
Contreras wanted to “give importance”
Before the Treasury, Javier Enríquez had explained that the decision to bill through an intermediary company was made “by agreement with the president and Contreras.” The president was then Josep Maria Bartomeu. In his statement as a witness before the Prosecutor’s Office, he retracted: “I deduced the president’s thing, but I cannot confirm it.”
Two or three days before each game, in any case, Javier Enríquez met with Contreras near his home, in Gavà, or in a cafeteria, and handed him the material. “He always wanted to personally deliver the reports, it seemed that he wanted to give himself importance,” explained the coach in a letter sent to the Treasury. “Contreras thanked me because he made it easier for him to explain it to the club, to the president or to managers, giving meaning and importance to his contribution to the club.” Javier added in that letter that he did not know “if Contreras was paid or not by the club.”
The coach tried to “work directly for the club, without intermediaries” and for this he tried to establish ties with Bartomeu, with Albert Soler (then head of sports) and with Gerard López, coach of Barça B. He was, in fact, the person contact with the club (and not Contreras). In his statement before the Prosecutor’s Office, the coach defended his work: he prepared “exhaustive” reports, of about ten or twelve pages, with data “of a social, personal, studies, habits, customs, tastes” of the referees; almost all in writing and in some cases accompanied by a DVD. He also analyzed referee decisions after the game.
The coach’s payments ended at the same time his father’s ended: in July 2018, just after Negreira ceased to be number two of the Spanish referees. The managers explained to him that it was a budgetary decision. Javier contacted President Bartomeu to request a meeting with managers. He got it, but it “barely lasted six minutes.” “It gave the impression,” he specified, “that they were there out of obligation and commitment.”
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