Piqué assures Negreira inquiry won’t obstruct Barcelona’s ‘golden era’

    Gerard Piqué is adamant: Barcelona achieved all their success during his time at the club without resorting to backroom deals and the favor of the referees.

    Spanish prosecutors have filed a corruption suit against Barcelona over alleged payments to the company of José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice president of Spain’s Technical Referees Committee (CTA).

    It is claimed that the total amount of payments for the period from 2001 to 2018 exceeded 7 million euros. El Pais newspaper reported last month that Enriquez Negreira’s company, DASNIL 95 SL, had produced written reports and a DVD of referee scores for Barcelona ahead of the games.

    Real Madrid have said they are ready to appear at any trial related to the investigation, voicing concern at board level over the allegations leveled against their fierce rivals.

    However, Pique, a longtime defender who retired last November, dismisses any suggestion that any wrongdoing is behind Barcelona’s on-pitch success.

    He told the Spanish broadcaster RAC1: “I would be fired up that Barça didn’t buy referees. If you want to buy a judge, it’s as easy as going and paying him directly with black money instead of paying the vice president of the committee on the bill.”

    Piqué said he was never aware of payments to the former referee’s company during his 14-year tenure with the first team.

    “The players don’t know that. I don’t know if this gentleman’s job was to help with that, but as players we were out of it,” Piqué said.

    Barcelona enjoyed stellar success in domestic and European competition from 2004-05 to 2018-19, trophy success has largely dried up since then, although they are top of La Liga this season.

    Piqué added, “No matter how much they want to smear, it was a golden era.”

    He said Barcelona, ​​which had Lionel Messi, Xavi and Piqué himself as key players for most of their dominant period, were clearly much stronger than their rivals.

    “It’s not just about the titles won, but how they were won,” Piqué said. “You can see everything: we were much better. We didn’t depend on the judge for good or bad.”

    Barcelona’s current president, Joan Laporta, said on Sunday that the club was “not guilty of the charges.”

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