Neymar will be tried in a transfer case

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Neymar is due to stand trial in October in Spain, just a month before the World Cup, over alleged irregularities when he transferred to Barcelona nearly a decade ago, court sources said yesterday. The Brazil international, his parents and former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu will face trial over alleged corruption linked to the forward’s transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.
Rosell and Bartomeu will also face fraud charges in the trial which is due to take place from October 17-31, a month before the start of the World Cup in Qatar. Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a world record €222m, but it was his move from boyhood club Santos to Barca in 2013 that sparked controversy.
The case follows a complaint from the Brazilian group DIS, the former owner of a percentage of the player’s rights. Barcelona have officially declared the cost of the transfer to be 57.1 million euros ($63.6 million), including 40 million euros for Neymar’s family and 17.1 million for Santos, but Spanish prosecutors later said it actually cost at least €83.3 million.
All of the defendants denied any wrongdoing, but their appeals to the Spanish High Court were dismissed, forcing the case to go to trial. DIS, which received €6.8m of the €17.1m paid to Santos, alleged that Barca and Neymar joined forces to hide the real transfer fee.
Yesterday DIS said it was ‘satisfied’ that there is now a date for the trial of the case, which has been in Spanish courts since 2016. The prosecution has requested a two-year prison sentence for Neymar, but he insisted that he was only focused on football and blindly trusted his father, who is also his agent.
Bartomeu took over the Barcelona presidency from his good friend Rosell, after the latter resigned in January 2014 amid bribery charges over the transfer. In 2020, Barcelona said they were cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport over allegations of fraud.
A 2020 document showed Neymar owed more unpaid taxes than anyone else blacklisted by Spanish authorities. The tax authorities refused to say whether Neymar’s presence on this list was linked to his transfer from Santos.
Barcelona agreed to pay a €5.5million fine to avoid a trial in 2016 for alleged tax evasion when signing Neymar. Then-president Bartomeu said at the time that there had been a “tax planning error”.
Neymar has also had run-ins with Brazilian tax authorities, being fined for tax evasion in Brazil. The 30-year-old recently took part in PSG’s pre-season tour of Japan as they prepare for the season-opening French Champions Trophy against Nantes on Sunday in Tel Aviv.
He signed an extension to his contract with the French side last year, taking it until 2025. However, another disappointing season marred by injury has cast doubt on his future at the Qatari club.
Neymar said on Saturday he wanted to stay with the French side and that he “didn’t need to prove himself” after five years at PSG. The player, Brazil’s second-highest goalscorer of all time behind Pele, is hoping to lead his country to a record sixth World Cup title in Qatar. Brazil’s World Cup campaign kicks off with a group game against Serbia on November 24, three days after the start of the tournament.

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