Hours after scoring the winning goal in Paris Saint-Germain’s win over Marseille in the French league, Neymar arrived in court in Spain on Monday to face a trial over alleged irregularities linked to his move to Barcelona in 2013.
Neymar’s parents, former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and representatives of both the Spanish club and Brazilian side Santos are also set to appear in court after Brazilian investment group DIS complained about the size of the player’s transfer.
All of the defendants have denied wrongdoing. The Brazilian striker arrived at the Barcelona court in sunglasses, a black suit and tie. Neymar’s father, who is also his agent, was among those who arrived alongside the player. The trial comes almost a month before the World Cup opens in Qatar on November 20. It is expected to last until the end of the month. On Sunday, Neymar scored his ninth goal of the season in the French league in first-half injury time and guided PSG to a 1-0 win over Marseille in the biggest game in French football.
Neymar and the rest of the accused are due to appear in court on the first day of the trial, but the player is not due to testify until Friday. Neymar and his father face corruption charges and up to two years in prison, which is unlikely to result in jail time. They also face a 10 million euro ($9.7 million) fine. Rosell faces five years in prison for fraud and corruption and a fine of 10 million euros ($9.7 million). DIS were entitled to 40% of Neymar’s transfer but claim they received less compensation as part of the transfer fee was concealed. Prosecutors said those involved tried to disguise the actual amount of the transfer in order to pay the investment group a lower commission.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that DIS only received its due percentage of the €17 million ($16.6 million) originally announced by Barcelona and Santos as a transfer between clubs, while the actual cost was around €82 million ( $79.9 million). An investigating magistrate in Spain has already said the actual cost was at least 83.3 million euros ($81.2 million).
Neymar and his father were in court in Madrid a few years ago because of the allegations. Neymar’s move from Santos also got Barcelona in trouble with the Spanish tax authorities. In 2016, the Catalan club paid a €5.5m (now $5.3m) fine to settle a separate case brought by the authorities.
In this agreement, the club admitted that it had made “a mistake in the financial planning of the player transfer”.