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Analysis: Why Barcelona football club is allowed to participate in Champions League next season

La Liga champions FC Barcelona could get a breather as they are allowed to take part in 2023/24 season of UEFA Champions League by European Football’s governing body, but few months they were in a spot of bother few months back when they were accused in a scandal which involved tipping off referees, notably to the head of referees committee, Jose Negreira.

Why was Barca under the scanner?

Barcelona has had a tremendous 2022/23 season, where they have clinched the long-awaited silverware La Liga after a hiatus of four years, and have qualified for next season’s European top flight tournament, Champions League. Owing to the likes of brilliant performances from Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who have achieved the Pichichi, to goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen winning the Zamora trophy, for maintaining the highest number of clean sheets in the League, it has all been a fairytale for Xavi’s Barca this season.

But, suddenly, in March 2023, like a dark cloud hovering over a city, Barcelona were speculated to be banned from Champions League next season, as they stood prime accused in connection to several illegal payments made to former referee and vice-president of Spanish referees’ committee, Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. According to the statement of the case, during a period from 2016 to 2018, Negreira was tipped by the Catalan giants to prescribe the players of their behavior to each referee in a game. It was also alleged that the advertising enterprise endorsed by Negreira, DASNIL 95 SL, would deliver an envelope to Barca headquarters every time they played a league or a Copa Del Rey fixture.

To strengthen everyone’s doubt, it was reported that the envelope contained a DVD and analysis report of the upcoming referee. Negreira claimed that he was paid to ensure “that no controversial refereeing decisions went against Barcelona”, demanding 500,000 euros per season. But, he has refuted the allegations about the envelope, speaking about his “technical assurance” verbally, which is denied by his son.

Reasons for allowing Barca to take part in Champions League

As Barcelona’s reputation of more than 100 years were about to be tarnished, UEFA’s green signal arrived as a silver lining for the Blaugranas. In simple terms, UEFA has not completed their investigation and therefore has no right to banish the La Liga champions on any grounds, which is acting as a short term enjoyment for the team.

UEFA have outlined in their statement which read, “The UEFA Appeals Body has taken the following decision with regards to the admission of FC Barcelona in the 2023/24 UEFA club competitions. The proceedings concerning the admission of FC Barcelona to the 2023/2024 UEFA club competitions are suspended and may be resumed, ex officio, or at the request of the Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors (EDIs) in charge of the case. FC Barcelona is provisionally admitted to take part in the 2023/2024 UEFA club competitions. A future decision on admission/exclusion from the UEFA club competitions is reserved. FC Barcelona is obliged to keep the EDIs informed of the progress of the ongoing investigations proactively and to provide the EDIs with all the documents and information they request. “

“Provisional”- the key note in UEFA’s statement, which could possess a fact of concern for Xavi, Laporta and Barca’s hierarchy, as they are well aware of the financial shackle of the run to the knockout stages of the competition.

As a precautionary measure, Barca could offload some of their first team clutch players like Franck Kessie and Lenglet, who can help the club with their magic but can take up a humongous cost which can be spent elsewhere, which, in the long run will help the club to stabilize itself financially, as it is dogging the club over the last few years.

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