Football: Laporta admits receiving Uzbek payments

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Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta testified in court on Monday that his legal firm had received over 10 million euros from Swiss-registered Uzbekistan conglomerate Zeromax.

However, he denied the money had -- as has been claimed by Turkish football agent Bayram Tutumlu -- been for illegal commissions for services provided by Barcelona to several football clubs in Uzbekistan, including FC Bunyodkor.

Laporta has been charged with alleged financial irregularities in his dealing with the football clubs.

Tutumlu said the illegal commissions were deposited in a Swiss bank account belonging to Laporta's law firm, Laporta & Arbos.

Laporta, who claimed when leaving court he was the victim of a political plot orchestrated by the present Barca incumbent Sandro Rosell, also admitted he had met Tutumlu after previously denying ever coming across him.

"The invoices to Zeromax were for different services and consultancies over a period of three years," testfied Lapprta.

"I have never done a deal with Tutumlu, I met with him on two occasions, out of politeness.

"I had already been warned that he was an opportunist who liked intrigue and it is exactly what he did."

Under a 2008 deal between the Catalan side and FC Bunyodkor, several Barcelona players, including Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta, traveled to Uzbekistan to oversee training sessions.

Laporta was Barcelona chairman from 2003 to 2010. Under his guidance Barcelona won the Champions League twice and the Spanish league four times making it the most successful period in the club's history.

© 2011 AFP

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