By Samindra Kunti
November 23 – Spanish prosecutors have demanded a two-year prison sentence for FC Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar for his part in a corruption case over his transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013.
The Spanish judge Jose Perals also called for a five-year sentence for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and a fine of €8.4million for the club.
The call for a two-year sentence by Perals would not necessarily see the Brazilian striker serve that time if found guilty – under the Spanish legal system, prison terms of under two years are typically suspended. Rosell, Neymar and his father look certain to stand trial.
The on-off transfer of Neymar to Barcelona in 2013 has been shrouded in controversy from the beginning. First it was over whether leaving in Brazil in 2013 was the best preparation for the national team with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil approaching.
But as he adapted and gradually grew in the shadow of Lionel Messi, focus then fell on the deal done with Santos.
Earlier this summer Barcelona paid €5.5 million to settle a separate case brought by Spanish prosecutors over the avoiding paying tax on the transfer.
The new prosecution centres on the claim by Brazilian third party ownership fund DIS who have accused the defendants of fraud, claiming they didn’t receive 40% of the FC Barcelona’s fee for Neymar.
DIS, which had also filed a complaint in Brazil, maintain they were cheated of their real share of the benefits of Neymar’s transfer in 2013. The deal between Santos and FC Barcelona over Neymar was valued at €57.1 million, but the Spanish judicial authorities have estimated the amount to be at least €83.3 million.
Rossell stepped down as the club’s president in 2014 for his role in the affair.
Earlier this year Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi and his father were sentenced to 21 months in prison on three counts of tax fraud. He has appealed against the sentence, though because it is a first-time non-violent crime the sentence can be served on probation.
In October, Neymar signed a new five-year contact with Barcelona, notwithstanding initial talks with French club Paris Saint-Germain. Yesterday he played 77 minutes in Barcelona’s 0-2 victory at Celtic Glasgow in the Champions League.
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