With just a month to go before the World Cup in Qatar, the player Neymar faces from this Monday (17) a legal dispute in Spain: the final judgment of the case that investigates irregularities in his controversial signing by Barcelona almost a decade ago.
The Paris Saint-Germain player, who left the Spanish club in 2017 in a million-dollar signing from the French team, went to court in barcelona this morning alongside the parents, also prosecuted in the case.
He spent two hours in the session and was dismissed by the judge, but will have to return to give evidence, which should happen on Friday (21).
The trial, which will take place between October 17 and 31, marks the final stage of a great imbroglio that the Brazilian faced in Spanish justice and that caused the resignation of the then president of Barcelona, Sandro Rossel, in addition to the wear and tear of the player in Spain.
The extensive judicial saga provoked by the transfer of Neymar in 2013 from Santos to Barcelona has a new chapter in a court in the Spanish city, with the beginning of the judgment of the action presented seven years ago by the DIS group, a fund that owned part of the economic rights of the athlete when he was a promising striker for the São Paulo club.
Neymar, who from November 20 will lead Brazil’s team at the Qatar World Cup, is accused of the crime of corporate corruption by the Public Ministry, which asks for two years in prison and the payment of a fine of 10 million euros (about BRL 51 million).
Neymar in front of court in Barcelona, during trial for tax fraud – Photo: REUTERS/Albert Gea
Neymar’s lawyers claim that the player did not commit a crime and question whether Spain has legal competence in the case. (Read more about what Neymar’s defense argues at the end of the report.)
Alongside the PSG player, his parents are also prosecuted, former presidents of FC Barcelona Sandro Rosell – for whom the MP asks for five years in prison for corruption and fraud – and Josep Maria Bartomeu, as well as the former president of Santos Odílio. Rodrigues Son.
The other defendants are three legal entities: FC Barcelona, Santos FC and the company founded by Neymar’s parents to manage his career.
All have been summoned to the first of seven trial hearings, which are expected to run through October 31.
According to the initial schedule, the player’s deposition is scheduled to take place on the 21st or 28th of October. The document, however, does not indicate whether he will testify in person.
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Before that, another long-awaited testimony will take place: that of Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, who will testify on Tuesday (18) by videoconference to explain, at the request of DIS, how the pre-agreement signed in secret between Barça and player in 2011 influenced the market.
FC Barcelona initially announced that the signing of Neymar cost 57.1 million euros (40 million for the family and 17.1 for Santos), but the Spanish court calculated that the operation cost at least 83 million euros. (approximately R$ 431 million).
Neymar gives his first testimony in Spain about irregularities in the signing of Barcelona, in 2016.
For DIS – a sports investment fund that belonged to the Brazilian supermarket group Sonda -, Barça, Neymar and later Santos allied themselves to hide the real value of the operation through other contracts that were left out.
The company, which acquired 40% of the player’s economic rights in 2009, received 6.8 million euros of the 17.1 million officially paid to the Brazilian club.
“Neymar Júnior, with the connivance of his parents and FC Barcelona, and its leaders at the time, and Santos FC (…) defrauded the legitimate economic interests of DIS”, said Paulo Nasser, the company’s lawyer, who denounces that the player’s rights “were not sold to the highest bidder”.
As it considers itself doubly harmed, both for not having received its share of the real transfer and for the exclusivity contract signed by Neymar and Barça – which prevented other clubs from disputing the signing of the striker -, the DIS fund asks for the refund of the 35 million euros that you calculate you have lost.
As a private charge, the group asks for five years in prison for the player, Rosell and Bartomeu, in addition to millionaire fines.
Neymar’s lawyers argue, however, that the client did not commit any crime, since the 40 million euros corresponded to a “bonus of legal and customary hiring in the football market”, and question whether Spain has the legal competence to the case.