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Barca president charged with suspected bribery

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been charged with suspected bribery over payments made to companies linked to the former vice president of the refereeing committee, José María Enríquez Negreira, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

The charges relate to Laporta’s first spell in charge of the Catalan club between 2003 and 2010 after a judge ruled the latter years of that tenure should not be time-barred.

Laporta, who returned to the presidency for a second time in 2021, was not initially named as a defendant when charges for alleged bribery were filed against Barça in September.

Former presidents Josep María Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, as well as Negreira and his son, Javier Enríquez Romero, were listed among the accused.

However, the judge in charge of the case ruled on Wednesday that Laporta and his board of directors — from the time the payments were made — should be added to the probe as it is a case of continued bribery.

Therefore, the investigation period can cover the 10-year period prior to the last payment made to Negreira, which was in 2018, making the final two years of Laporta’s first tenure punishable.

Barça paid Negreira’s companies more than €7m ($7.3m) 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.

Laporta has said the payments were for “technical reports about referees” and has repeatedly 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.”

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.

Barça were originally charged with alleged corruption in sport, corruption in business, false administration and the falsification of commercial documents in March.

The bribery charges were added in September after the judge said Negreira “exercised public functions” as vice president of the refereeing committee, which equates him to a civil servant.

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LIST: UEFA Champions League top scorers

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The UEFA Champions League has once again provided football fans with mesmerising moments and breathtaking goals.

The UEFA Champions League has once again provided football fans with mesmerising moments and breathtaking goals.

As the competition heats up, there has been a thrilling race for the golden boot among some of the world’s most talented players.

Following Tuesday’s matches, several players have already made their mark on the tournament with their impressive goal-scoring prowess.

Below are the leading scorers after Tuesday’s matches:

8 goals: Mbappe (Paris SG)

7 goals: Kane (Bayern Munich)

6 goals: Haaland (Man City), Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)

5 goals: Hojlund (Man Utd), Morata (Atletico Madrid), Galeno (Porto), Alvarez (Man City), Foden (Man City)

4 goals: Evanilson (Porto), Jesus (Arsenal), Openda (RB Leipzig), Bellingham (Real Madrid), Sikan (Shakhtar Donetsk), Immobile (Lazio), Saka (Arsenal), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Trossard (Arsenal).

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Roma’s Ndicka ‘doing well’ after collapse, says De Rossi

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Roma defender Evan Ndicka is “doing well” after collapsing on the pitch during last weekend’s Serie A game with Udinese, his coach Daniele De Rossi said on Wednesday.

Roma defender Evan Ndicka is “doing well” after collapsing on the pitch during last weekend’s Serie A game with Udinese, his coach Daniele De Rossi said on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international dropped to the ground in the 70th minute of Sunday’s match, which was abandoned after Ndicka, who remained conscious, left the field on a stretcher.

“He’s doing well. A collapsed lung is a painful thing but luckily, if we can say that, he’s not suffering from what we feared when he collapsed on the pitch,” De Rossi told reporters.

Roma earlier this week ruled out heart problems as the cause, and Ndicka was pictured smiling while sat upright in his hospital bed just hours after the incident.

He spent a night under observation before returning to Rome, with tests revealing no sign of cardiac issues, but instead “a thoracic trauma with minimal left pneumothorax (trapped air between the lung and chest wall).”

Sunday’s match was level at 1-1 when it was suspended. The final minutes will be played at a later date, which has yet to be confirmed.

De Rossi said the call to abandon the match was the only feasible decision.

“It’s what had to be done, it was an unanimous decision, a normal one even. None of my players were ready to restart the match because the electrocardiogram (done at the stadium) suggested that he had suffered a heart attack.”

No date for Ndicka’s return to training has been given.

Roma are at home to AC Milan on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final, holding a 1-0 lead in the tie.

As a result of the Ndicka scare, Roma are organising an initiative to offer free heart screenings to supporters over the age of 45 at a local hospital ahead of their next home league game against Bologna on April 22.

 

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Rivers United not under pressure to beat Dreams FC — Ogenyi

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Rivers United assistant coach, Evans Ogenyi says his team is not under pressure ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup clash with Dreams FC of Ghana.

Rivers United assistant coach, Evans Ogenyi says his team is not under pressure ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup clash with Dreams FC of Ghana.

The Port Harcourt club will host the Ghanaian Cup champions at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo on Sunday (today).

The hosts occupy third position on the Group C table with nine points from five games, three adrift of leaders Dreams FC.

A 1-0 victory for Rivers United will be enough for them to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Ogenyi stated that they know what is at stake and will give their all in the game.

“We are not in any way under pressure because we know it’s not insurmountable. It is very possible. We went over here (in Ghana), we lost to them 2-1. We know we have a responsibility to the people of Rivers State and Nigeria in its entirety,” he told the club’s media.

“So we know what is at stake and I believe the moves we have made, it is very possible that Rivers United on behalf of Nigeria will qualify.”

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