February 21 – Barcelona’s troubles on the field are being matched by a serious distraction off it with the news that Brazilian star Neymar has lost his final appeal and will stand trial on corruption charges relating to his transfer from Santos to Barcelona four years ago.
The case was brought by the Brazilian investment fund DIS, which owned 40% of Neymar’s third-party rights and claimed that it was short-changed when Neymar moved club in 2013.
Santos, Neymar’s mother and a company run by the 25-year-old forward will also face charges.
“Santos FC, Barcelona FC, Neymar, his mother Nadine Goncalves and N&N, the family company, have lost their appeals to have charges of fraud and corruption dropped,” the Spanish High Court said in a statement.
Prosecutors are seeking a two-year jail term and a fine of nearly £8 million for Neymar, £7.2 million for Barcelona and £5.6 million for Santos.
However, even if the Brazil international were found guilty he would be unlikely to go to jail. Under the Spanish legal system, prison terms of under two years are usuaully suspended.
The transfer of Neymar to Barcelona in 2013 has been shrouded in controversy from the beginning. Barca thought they had brought the affair to a close in June, but Spain’s public prosecutor successfully overturned that in September. DIS says it received €6.8 million from the transfer, far less than it claims it was due.
Last year Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi and his father were sentenced to 21 months in prison on three counts of tax fraud. The Argentine maestro has appealed against the sentence and because it is a first-time non-violent crime he is not expected to be imprisoned either.
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