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Governing Bodies

UEFA opens investigation into Barca payments to ex-refereeing official

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UEFA has opened a formal investigation into FC Barcelona for a potential violation of the European soccer governing body’s legal framework regarding payments made by the club to a company owned by a senior refereeing official, it said on Thursday.

A Barcelona court agreed to take on the case last week after prosecutors filed a complaint over what they alleged were payments of 7.3 million euros ($7.95 million) from 2001 to 2018 to firms owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.

Negreira was vice-president of the refereeing committee of the Spanish Football Association from 1993 to 2018 under then president Victoriano Sanchez Arminio.

Negreira was not immediately available to comment.

UEFA said in a statement on Thursday: “In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira’.”

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State Attorney General Alvaro Garcia Ortiz on Tuesday asked for the case to be transferred to the anti-corruption prosecutors’ office due to the high-profile nature of the allegations.

The prosecutors’ complaint focuses on 2.9 million euros paid from 2014 to 2018 and alleges Barcelona, with the help of the club’s former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, reached a “confidential verbal agreement” with Negreira.

In a statement last month the club denied any wrongdoing, saying it had paid an external consultant who supplied it with “technical reports related to professional refereeing”. It was a common practice among professional football clubs, it said.

A senior Barcelona official told Reuters the club had expected the prosecutors’ complaint and described it as “nothing more than an absolutely preliminary investigative hypothesis”.

The official said the club would fully cooperate with the investigation and it reiterated that “they have never bought any referee nor have tried to influence any official’s decisions”.

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“I am looking forward to confronting all the scoundrels who are tarnishing our shield,” Barcelona president Joan Laporta told an event held by the club with the captains of the different Barcelona teams earlier this month.

Rosell was not immediately available to comment.

LaLiga said earlier this month that it had reported the case to UEFA because no punishment could be handed down under Spanish sports law since three years had passed since the alleged infringements, according to its president Javier Tebas.

“As we could not intervene because it was time-barred, we wrote to UEFA who can do so at the international level,” Tebas said in an official statement earlier this month.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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