Brazilian superstar Neymar has lost his final appeal and will stand trial on corruption charges related to his transfer to Barcelona four years ago.
In effect, Neymar (and the company run by his parents) Barcelona and Santos will all stand trial on fraud and corruption charges after their appeals were turned down by Spain’s high court on Monday. The complaint was brought by a Brazilian investment group DIS which claimed that it received a “smaller compensation” as a result of the transfer fee being concealed by the parties directly involved. DIS owned 40% of Neymar’s transfer rights and alleged that they received less money than they were entitled to.
The prosecutors in question demand a two-year prison sentence and a penalty of nearly €9.4 million for Neymar as well as his father on corruption charges. Both of them will not face any jail time because they are both first-time offenders. The prosecutors wanted a penalty of about €8.5m from Barcelona and €6.6 from Santos.
Nadine Goncalves, Neymar’s mother, and the family company “N&N” don’t have the power to appeal against the high court’s decision.
This news is not new to people who closely follow the Brazilian sensation as these irregularities have been mentioned time and again. In fact, Barcelona have been immersed in legal troubles over Neymar’s transfer since 2013. Former Barcelona President Sandro Rosell had to resign as the club’s president in 2014 for his role in the affair. He testified in court in February 2016 alongside Bartomeu, Neymar and Neymar’s father.
Neymar, Barcelona & Santos to stand trial on fraud & corruption charges over 2013 transfer after appeals turned down by Spain’s High Court
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) February 20, 2017
Barcelona eventually struck a deal with prosecutors in June 2016 to settle a separate case. They had to pay a €5.5m (£4.7m) fine and avoided trial on charges of tax evasion over the transfer. The Catalan giants must have thought that was the end of the matter when Judge José de la Mata “archived” the case in June last year. However, Spain’s public prosecutor managed to successfully reverse the ruling in September last year, allowing the case to proceed.
Barcelona currently sit in the second spot in La Liga, one point behind Real Madrid who have played two games lesser. The Spanish side was previously left shellshocked in the Champions League when they lost against PSG 0-4. Things have not been smooth sailing for Barcelona, and while it is unlikely that the high court’s verdict will especially put a halt on Neymar’s football career, it comes at an inopportune time for the club and Luis Enrique, both of whom desperately need their best players to deliver.