Neymar to stand trial in Spain ahead of the World Cup

Neymar scored 105 goals for Barcelona after joining from Santos in 2013. Photo: LLUIS GENE/AFP/File
Source: Agence France-Presse

Judicial sources said, on Wednesday, that Neymar is due to face trial in Spain in October, just a month before the World Cup, over alleged irregularities in his move to Barcelona nearly a decade ago.

The Brazil international, his parents and former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu will be tried for alleged corruption related to the striker’s transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.

Rosell and Bartomeu will also face fraud charges in the trial scheduled for October 17-31, a month before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar.

Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a world record €222 million, but it was his move from boyhood club Santos to Barcelona in 2013 that sparked controversy.

The case arose from a complaint from the Brazilian group DIS, the former owner of a proportion of the player’s rights.

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Barcelona officially said the deal cost 57.1 million euros ($63.6 million), including 40 million euros for Neymar’s family and 17.1 million euros for Santos, but Spanish prosecutors later said the deal already costs at least 83.3 million euros.

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All the accused denied wrongdoing, but their appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court was rejected, forcing the case to appear in court.

DIS, which received €6.8 million of the €17.1 million paid to Santos, claimed that Barcelona and Neymar joined forces to conceal the true amount of the deal.

On Wednesday, the Security Inspection Service said it was “convinced” that there was now a date to try the case, which has been in Spanish courts since 2016.

Prosecutors requested a two-year prison sentence for Neymar, but insisted he was only focused on football and that he blindly trusted his father, who is also his agent.

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Bartomeu took over the presidency of Barcelona from his good friend Rosell, after the latter resigned in January 2014 as he faces corruption charges over his transfer.

In 2020, Barcelona said the Court of Arbitration for Sport had acquitted them over allegations of fraud.

A document in 2020 showed Neymar owed more unpaid taxes than any other individual blacklisted by Spanish authorities.

The tax office has refused to say whether Neymar’s presence on that list is linked to his transfer from Santos.

Tax planning error

Barcelona agreed to pay a fine of 5.5 million euros to avoid a trial in 2016 over alleged tax fraud in Neymar’s signing.

President Bartomeu said at the time that there had been a “tax planning error”.

Neymar was also in trouble with the Brazilian tax authorities, being fined for tax evasion in Brazil.

The 30-year-old was recently playing in PSG’s pre-season tour of Japan as they prepare for the season’s inaugural French Champions Cup against Nantes on Sunday in Tel Aviv.

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He signed an extension to his contract with the French side last year, reaching 2025.

However, another disappointing season marred by injury has put question marks over his future at the Qatar-owned club.

Neymar said on Saturday that he wants to stay with the French national team and does not need to “prove” himself after five years with Paris Saint-Germain.

The player, Brazil’s second highest scorer of all time behind Pele, is hoping to lead his country to a sixth World Cup title in Qatar.

Brazil’s World Cup campaign kicks off with a group match against Serbia on November 24, three days after the tournament kicked off.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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