Barcelona sever relations with Sevilla over directors' boycott

Xavi strongly denies Barcelona's referee bribe allegations (0:28)

Xavi says he has "never" thought referees have been ruling in Barcelona's favour. (0:28)

Barcelona said it had severed all relations with Sevilla after the Andalusian club announced its executives would not sit in the director's box at Barcelona's Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium for Friday's LaLiga match between the two teams.

Sevilla announced its break from the matchday protocol after Barcelona were charged with suspected bribery on Thursday. The charges relate to payments worth more than €7 million ($7.3m) made to companies linked to the former vice president of the refereeing committee, José María Enríquez Negreira, according to court documents revealed on Thursday.

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Former Barça presidents Josep María Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell also stand accused of the same charges, as do Negreira and his son, Javier Enríquez Romero.

"FC Barcelona wishes to show publicly its condemnation of Sevilla FC's unjustified and inappropriate attack after the club today refused to attend the institutional lunch amongst directors prior to today's game between the two teams at [Barcelona's] Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, where its representatives have also refused to take their places in the directors' box," Barcelona said in a club statement.

"Furthermore, the Andalusian club has published a statement in which it shows its 'indignation and condemnation for the practices carried out by former FC Barcelona directors named in the Negreira case' and announces its absence from the directors' box for today's game.

"FC Barcelona believe this to be an attack against the Catalan institution and an unacceptable offence."

The statement continued: "Sevilla FC's position, therefore, appears illogical given that on the one hand it ignores the presumption of innocence and on the other denies FC Barcelona its right to a defence in the legal process which is currently ongoing.

"In the light of this unacceptable and unjustifiable position of Sevilla FC, FC Barcelona believes that all institutional relations with the institution from Seville have been broken off until their current position is rectified."

Directors from Sevilla did attend Friday's game, which Barcelona won 1-0, but in a statement earlier in the day the club condemned the alleged actions of their opponents..

"We express our complete outrage and condemnation of the actions carried out by the former officials of Barcelona who are indicted in the Negreira case, actions that are allegedly considered criminal by a court, as stated in the court order disseminated in the media," Sevilla said in a statement.

"We reject the behavior of Barcelona during the periods in which these alleged crimes took place.

"For this reason, we have suspended the normal protocol corresponding to the LaLiga match scheduled for Friday between Barcelona and Sevilla and will have no representation in the Montjuic stadium's VIP box.

"We want to express our deepest respect for the Barcelona members and season ticket holders, as well as for their current employees and officials who work daily at Barcelona and who are indirectly implicated in this matter.

"We respect the Spanish justice system, the presumption of innocence, and any decisions that may be made in any direction by the relevant courts and disciplinary bodies.

"We hope that, for the sake of the competition, all events in the Negreira case will be clarified in light of the judge's recent considerations."

Barça are also facing charges of corruption in business, false administration and the falsification of commercial documents after the payments came to light in February.

The Blaugrana paid Negreira's companies more than €7m between 2001 and 2018 while he was the vice president of the refereeing committee. He had previously been a referee in the Spanish top flight.

Current Barça president Joan Laporta has said the payments were for "technical reports about referees" and denied the club has ever "bought referees or influence."

However, prosecutors accused Rosell and Bartomeu of having an agreement with Negreira in which "he would carry out actions aimed at favouring Barca in the decision-making of the referees in the matches played by the club and thus in the results of the competitions."

That led to a court opening an investigation in March, which eventually brought about the latest developments on Thursday.

Rosell was Barca president from 2010 to 2014 before Bartomeu replaced him. After six years at the helm of the Catalan club, Bartomeu resigned in 2020, with Laporta elected as his replacement in 2021.