MADRID: Barcelona are under formal investigation for suspected bribery in an investigation spanning two decades of activities at the country’s refereeing committee, according to a court document seen by Reuters.

The investigating judge, Joaquín Aguirre López, said this month that Barcelona may have benefited from “possible systemic corruption”. In a statement in February, Barcelona denied any wrongdoing.

In March prosecutors filed a complaint over alleged payments of more than €7.3m over 17 years to firms owned by José María Enríquez Negreira, who was vice-president of the football federation’s refereeing committee from 1993 to 2018.

Barcelona have always involved any wrongdoing.

The club said in February they had paid an external consultant who supplied them with “technical reports related to professional refereeing”, which the club said was a common practice among professional football clubs.

According to judge Aguirre, Negreira was responsible for ranking and evaluating the referees. However, no evidence has been found of Negreira paying referees to influence match results, Aguirre said in early September.