The president of Barcelona, Joan Laporta, has three years left in his mandate, but there is a possibility that he will end early through legal means. Laporta will stand trial alongside former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, and the club itself, over payments to former referees committee vice-president Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira.
According to the newspaper Marca, the court organizing the investigation into the payments has decided that the statute of limitations will run from the last payment made to Negreira. This means that Laporta is also involved in the case, and he is now accused of bribery along with his former colleagues.
The statute of limitations is set at 10 years for the bribery offences, which date back to 2023 when the case was opened, involving Barcelona presidents involved in paying Negreira between 2013 and 2018 (when the payments were stopped). However, Judge Joaquin Aguirre has ruled that the statute of limitations runs from the time the final payments were made.
This dates back to 2008 and would involve Laporta for the last two years of his first term at Barcelona, before Rosell took over in 2010.
So far Laporta has denied any wrongdoing by the club in relation to corruption, calling it a campaign against Barcelona. They say they are cooperating with the prosecutor on this matter.
No sports corruption has yet been proven, but the allegation of bribery simply corresponds to paying a public official to perform a duty, regardless of the reciprocation received. Barcelona and Laporta are likely to argue that Negreira is not a public official but part of a private company in the RFEF.
If convicted, Laporta could face three to six years in prison. Meanwhile, the club could face anything from a warning to bankruptcy, depending on the punishment. It should be noted that at this point Laporta and Barcelona are accused of bribery as part of the case, but have not yet been found guilty.