Neymar cleared of fraud, corruption charges over Barcelona transfer
Former Barcelona attacker Neymar has been acquitted by a Spanish court in a fraud and corruption case in relation to his transfer from Santos to the Catalan giants in 2013.
The 30-year-old, who now plies his trade with Paris Saint-Germain, was on trial alongside his parents, former Barcelona presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, former Santos president Odilio Rodrigues, and representatives of both clubs.
Brazilian investment group DIS – who owned 40% of Neymar’s economic rights while he was at Santos – claim they lost out on their rightful cut of the £79.2m transfer as the deal was undervalued.
Neymar “betrayed” their trust according to Paulo Nasser, a lawyer representing the firm who wanted the Brazil international to receive a five-year jail sentence.
DIS were also seeking similar jail sentences for Rosell and Bartomeu as well as a total fine of €149m for the defendants.
Meanwhile, Spanish prosecutors were demanding a two-year jail ruling and a fine of €10m (£8.7m) for Neymar, as well as a five-year jail sentence for Rosell.
Rosell, 58, served as Barcelona president between 2010 and 2014 and was replaced by Bartomeu, 59, who held the position until October 2020 when Joan Laporta was then appointed as his successor.
However, all charges have been dropped and the court said in a statement on Tuesday that “it has not been proven that there was a false contract or that DIS was intended to be harmed.”
Speaking to the court in Barcelona in his first testimony of his trial last month, Neymar said: “I didn’t participate in the negotiations. My father always took care of it and always will.
I sign everything he tells me to sign.
“Playing for Barcelona was always my dream, a childhood dream.”
Meanwhile, Neymar’s father, Neymar da Silva Santos, added: “Our intention was to prepare a career plan for him in Europe, in which we had in place already established, could learn the language, etc. And knowing his dream to play for Barcelona, we signed that priority agreement with them.”
Neymar is now set to take a short break following Brazil’s disappointing quarter-final exit at the 2022 World Cup before returning to action with PSG towards the end of the month.
The 124-cap Selecao international was visibly emotional after Brazil lost 4-2 on penalties to Croatia last Friday, and the attacker has hinted at the possibility of international retirement.
“It feels like a nightmare, I can’t believe what’s happening. This defeat will hurt for a long time,” Neymar told reporters via Globo.
“I want to take this time to think about the national team, think about what I want for myself. I’m not closing the doors to the national team, but I’m not saying 100% that I’m going back either”.
Neymar scored once in three matches for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar, while he has recorded 15 goals and 12 assists in 20 appearances for PSG across all competitions this season.