One of the most titled teams in Europe risks seri­ous prob­lems due to a crim­i­nal case.

There is anoth­er scan­dal in Span­ish foot­ball: Barcelona is accused of bribery and could receive severe pun­ish­ment. We are even talk­ing about the dis­ap­pear­ance of a titled club, because the judi­cia­ry is involved in cor­rup­tion fraud, which could influ­ence the results for years.

How did Barcelona get into a corruption scandal?

Barcelona are report­ed­ly being inves­ti­gat­ed for “active bribery” as part of an inves­ti­ga­tion into alleged cor­rup­tion with­in the Span­ish ref­er­ee­ing com­mit­tee.

Police raid­ed the offices of the Span­ish Ref­er­ee Com­mit­tee (CTA) and the head­quar­ters of the Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (RFEF) in Madrid on Thurs­day, a Barcelona court said, as part of an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into “pos­si­ble sys­temic cor­rup­tion” at the CTA.

Accord­ing to inves­ti­ga­tors, the for­mer deputy chair­man of the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee of ref­er­ees of the Roy­al Span­ish Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, received about €7.7 mil­lion from Barcelona from 2001 to 2018.

Negreira and his son Javier Hen­riques, as well as for­mer Barcelona pres­i­dents Josep Bar­tomeu and San­dro Rosell, are named as defen­dants in the case.

What threatens Barcelona?

The inves­ti­ga­tion is seri­ous: brib­ing an offi­cial is con­sid­ered a crim­i­nal offense, so we are even talk­ing about impris­on­ment. Barcelona will also face seri­ous pun­ish­ment, because they could be sent to the sec­ond divi­sion, Span­ish jour­nal­ists believe.

This has already hap­pened with Juven­tus in Italy: the team was demot­ed to the low­er divi­sion, but quick­ly returned to Serie A. But British jour­nal­ists believe that Barcelona may cease to exist alto­geth­er:

“If found guilty, the crim­i­nals will receive between three and six years in prison. “Barcelona could be sus­pend­ed from oper­at­ing as a pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball club, which would like­ly force the 124-year-old club into bank­rupt­cy,” writes The Tele­graph.

This is not the first scan­dal in Span­ish foot­ball: it occurred against the back­drop of alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al abuse against the for­mer head of the RFEF, Luis Rubiales.

Recall that on August 20, Rubiales kissed World Cup win­ner Jen­ny Her­moso on the lips, caus­ing a furore that was large­ly eclipsed by the wom­en’s team’s tri­umph in Syd­ney. Rubiales left his post, although he ini­tial­ly refused.