May 26 – Once one of the most influential figures in European football, playing a prominent role in the European Club Association and representing the body on various UEFA and FIFA committees, Sandro Rosell faces a grim future after a Spanish judge ordered prison without bail for the former Barcelona boss.
Earlier this week, Rosell, his wife and three others, were arrested as part of a money-laundering investigation known as ‘Operation Rimet’ in reference to former FIFA president Jules Rimet and apparently uncovered with assistance from the US authorities as part of their own widespread football-related corruption probe.
After hearing their respective testimonies, judge Carmen Lamela announced the verdict for Rosell and a business associate Joan Besoli, refusing bail by deeming Rosell a potential flight risk, as well as the added danger of destruction of evidence, according to Spanish media reports.
El Pais reported that 53-year-old Rosell will remain in prison until facing trial.
Before taking over at Barca, Rosell, a former Nike executive in Brazil, is accused of having laundered €15 million in the tax haven of Andorra derived from the sale of TV rights to Brazilian national team matches.
Judge Lamela ruled Rosell was part of an organisation “dedicated to laundering money from illicit commissions, derived from the sale by (former FIFA and Brazilian powerbroker) Ricardo Teixeira of the rights of the (Brazilian) national football team to a merchant based in Cayman Islands, identified as International Sports Events.
“All this was accomplished through a network of societies and accounts mainly in the Principality of Andorra.”
Several years ago, he was formally accused by Brazilian authorities of using one of his companies to illegally benefit from a friendly between Brazil and Portugal in 2008 but was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Rosell resigned as Barcelona president at the start of 2014 after four years in charge after being accused of misappropriation of funds regarding the signing of Neymar from Brazilian club Santos.
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