Neymar to stand trial over transfer to Barcelona as Spanish court open proceedings

Mark Critchley
The Independent
Neymar is unlikely to spend time in prison, even if found guilty and sentenced: Getty
Neymar is unlikely to spend time in prison, even if found guilty and sentenced: Getty

Spain’s national court has opened trial proceedings against Neymar, the Barcelona forward, on charges of alleged fraud and corruption following his 2013 transfer from Santos.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona’s current president, and his predecessor Sandro Rosell will also stand trial alongside members of Neymar’s family and Santos officials.

According to Spanish news agency EFE, prosecutors will seek a two-year prison sentence and €10million fine for Neymar.

The controversy surrounding Neymar's transfer stems from a complaint by the Brazilian investment group DIS, who claim to have owned 40 per cent of the rights to Neymar during his time at Santos.

Rosell initially said that the transfer had cost a total of €57.1m "full stop", which led DIS and other parties to claim that they had received less money than they were entitled to.

On assuming the presidency, Bartomeu revised the cost of the 'total operation' to €86.2 million, accounting for agents' fees and a separate commission of €40m paid to the Neymar and N&N Consultoria Esportiva, a company owned by the player's parents.

Santos and DIS maintained they had lost out on millions, with the latter claiming to be owed around €16m more than its €6.8m payment.

Last summer, the case was archived by a Spanish judge, only for prosecutors to overturn the ruling in September. Appeals with intention of preventing Neymar from appearing in court were rejected in February.

Even if Neymar were to be found guilty, he is unlikely to serve a prison term, with sentences of under two years typically suspended by Spanish jurisdiction.

Lionel Messi, Neymar's team-mate, was sentenced to 21 months in prison in July of last year on tax fraud charges.

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