Pique vows Negreira case will not smear Barcelona
A corruption complaint was recently filed by Spanish prosecutors against the Catalan giants, concerning payments allegedly made to a business run by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, once a top match official and latterly vice-president of Spain's Technical Committee of Referees (CTA).
It has been claimed the total payments from Barcelona exceeded €7million, dating from 2001 to 2018.
Newspaper El Pais last month reported Negreira's company – DASNIL 95 SL – produced written reports and DVD assessments of referees for Barcelona prior to games.
UEFA announced in a statement on Thursday that it has opened an investigation into the matter.
"In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors have today been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called 'Caso Negreira'," the statement read, adding that: "Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course."
Barcelona president Joan Laporta maintains the club has done nothing wrong and that the allegations are simply an attempt to derail the LaLiga leaders.
Laporta recently said: "The campaign we are suffering is not by chance, you all know this. Its objective is, in the short term, to destabilise the team, and in the medium term, to control Barca. I will have time and I want to explain to you who, why and how they want to orchestrate this campaign.
"Have no doubt that we will defend ourselves. And we will not only defend ourselves, we will attack."