Just a month before the FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil, Neymar will have to stand trial in the Spanish court over the alleged fraud and corruption charges related to his transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.
Alongside Neymar, the defendants include his parents, both clubs involved, and former Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu. DIS Sports, the Brazilian sports investment firm, is seeking five-year imprisonment for Neymar. They secured 40% of the rights to Neymar in €2 million when he was in Santos, but lost out on a massive sum because of an understatement of the deal between Santos and Barcelona.
The reported amount Barcelona paid for this acquisition was €57.1 million, out of which only €40 million went to Neymar’s family. The DIS, as per the deal, received 40% of the remaining €17 million that was paid to Santos.
“Neymar’s rights have not been sold to the highest bidder. There were clubs that offered up to €60m,” DIS lawyer Paulo Nasser said on Thursday.
Neymar termed this allegation as completely baseless, but lost his appeal in Spain’s High Court in 2017. Baker McKenzie, the lawyer defending Neymar in this case, will argue that Spain doesn’t have the jurisdiction to prosecute Neymar or his family, since the deal happened outside of the Spanish territory.
“The rules of free competition do not operate since the transfer from one club to another depends on the free will of the player,” said a spokesman of Baker McKenzie. “The player is not a service or a commodity. He is a person of his own free will.”
If proven guilty, not only Neymar, but Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu, two of the former presidents of Barcelona, will face potential imprisonment. The Catalan-based club, meanwhile, will have to pay a fine of €8.4m.
Neymar will have to appear in person on Friday next week, but it’s highly unlikely that he will be around for the whole hearing process. He is currently in Paris, and will soon join the Brazilian squad in Qatar. He has had a great start to the season, having already scored 8 goals in Ligue 1.
Lead Image: Neymar/Twitter