A disaster awaits Barcelona. The worst moment in La Liga history

The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, said that "the first popular game in the country is going through its worst moment ever due to the arbitration corruption case related to Barcelona."

Prosecutors last week brought corruption charges against the Catalan club after disclosing payments of more than 7.3 million euros ($7.8 million) to a company owned by a former chief referee earlier this year.

Barcelona responded by saying that it had "paid José María Enriquez Negrira, former referee and former vice-president of the refereeing committee of the local federation of the game between 1994 and 2018, for reports and advice related to refereeing."

Tebas told Movistar Vamos: "Yes, (it's the worst moment) I remember."

"The problem we have is the worst. There are payments that Barcelona have acknowledged to the vice-president of the federation's refereeing committee, and this is not normal."

"It is understandable that tension has arisen. Our football's reputation is at stake. I feel ashamed. We don't have an explanation from Barcelona."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta confirmed he would defend his team against "attacks".

Laporte appeared emotional during his speech and said it was "not weakness, but instead showed his desire to confront his club's critics".

"I don't think I've become emotional because of weakness, I feel emotional because I really want to face all the bastards who deface our badge," he said, "and there are fierce attacks staining our club's badge, which have nothing to do with reality."

"You can be sure that the board of directors that I have the honour to chair will defend it with all our might," he stressed.

Spanish newspaper El País reported that former Barcelona coaches Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde will be called as witnesses in the trial proceedings.

Spanish champions Real Madrid said they would appear as an 'injured party' in the case once they move forward.

In addition to the club and Enriques Negreira, two former club presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, face the same corruption charges.

At the sporting level, Barcelona faces no immediate danger because the governing bodies of Spanish, European and world football have a five-year statute of limitations, Tebas said.

At the criminal level, the accused can face up to four years in prison.

Alberto Pallomar, a law professor at Madrid's Carlos III University, said sanctions against the club could range from "suspension ... to the complete solution as a company."