(Reuters) — UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said the FC Barcelona refereeing scandal was one of the worst he had seen in football since he became involved.
UEFA opened a formal investigation into Barcelona last month for breaching European football’s governing body’s legal framework over payments the club made to a company owned by a senior referee.
“I cannot comment directly on this for two reasons,” Ceferin told Slovenian newspaper Ekipe SN in an interview published on Monday.
“Firstly, we have an independent disciplinary committee, and secondly, I have not dealt with this matter in detail. However, I can say one thing. As far as I know, the situation is very serious. How serious it is. In my opinion, one of the most serious (in football) since I have been involved with her”, Confirmed.
Between 2001 and 2018, 7.3 million euros ($7.96 million) were allegedly paid by Barcelona to companies owned by José María Enriquez Negrera, vice president of the Spanish Football Federation’s referees committee.
“At the level of the Spanish league, of course, the matter is outdated and cannot have competitive consequences, while proceedings are ongoing at the level of the Spanish civil prosecutor’s office,” added Čeferin.
“The same applies to UEFA, here he is not recommending anything.”
In a statement in February, the club denied any wrongdoing, saying it had paid an external consultant who provided technical reports on refereeing, which it said was common practice among professional football clubs.