Neymar facing fraud trial weeks before World Cup
Brazilian football star Neymar is set to go on trial for fraud just weeks before he attempts to guide his nation to glory at the World Cup in Qatar.
The forward will face a trial in Spain from October 17 to 31, as part of long-running claims of irregularities stemming from his transfer to Barcelona from Santos back in 2013.
Former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu will also be tried, as will Neymar’s parents and a former director of Santos, El Pais has reported.
Prosecutors are said to be demanding a two-year prison sentence for Neymar, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barca in a world-record €222 million ($225 million) deal in 2017.
The fraud allegations are based on a complaint filed several years ago by Brazilian company DIS, which owned 40% of Neymar’s “federative rights” when he was at Santos.
The company is said to be pressing for an even tougher five-year sentence for the footballer and a ban from playing for the same period.
Neymar signed for Barcelona for a reported fee of €57.1 million, with DIS receiving €6.8 million of the €17.1 million paid to Santos. Neymar’s father is said to have pocketed €40 million.
But DIS claims it was deceived by Neymar, his relatives and Barcelona regarding the actual fee that was paid to the Spanish giants, in a bid to deprive the company of the full amount it was entitled to.
Neymar and the others involved in the case have denied those claims.
The planned court case comes at an inopportune time, just weeks before the Qatar World Cup is set to kick off in the Gulf state on November 21.
Brazil are due to play their opening game against Serbia on November 24.
Neymar, 30, has suggested this could be his last World Cup campaign for the Selecao.
Neymar has already been dragged into legal woes surrounding his former transfers.
Back in 2016, Barcelona agreed to pay a €5.5 million fine to the Spanish authorities because of irregularities in his move from Brazil.
Former Barca president Rosell quit in 2014 amidst the corruption scandal, and went on to spend 20 months in prison before being cleared of allegations of money laundering in 2019.
Separately, Neymar was involved in legal wrangle with the Catalan giants following his move to PSG in 2017.
In that instance, there were claims and counter-claims in a dispute over a loyalty payment Neymar said he was owed, while Barcelona demanded the return of money they had already paid the star.
Ultimately the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement last year after a judge in Barcelona sided with the club.