Neymar arrives at Barcelona court, trial begins for 2013 transfer


BARCELONA, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil soccer star Neymar Jr. and eight others went on trial in Barcelona on Monday on charges of fraud and corruption in connection with the player’s transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013.

Neymar arrived in court after landing on a flight from Paris where he lives. He took the time to sign an autograph for a fan at the city’s airport, Reuters witnesses said.

Spanish prosecutors are asking for a two-year prison sentence and a 10 million euro ($9.8 million) fine for Neymar. They are also asking for a five-year prison sentence for former Barca president Sandro Rosell and an 8.4 million euro fine for the club.

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The case centers on the claim by Brazilian investment firm DIS, which held 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was at Santos, that it lost its rightful share of the player’s transfer because the value of the deal was understated.

The DIS demanded a much heavier five-year prison sentence for Neymar, fines totaling 149 million euros and a ban on the player from playing for the duration of any sentence imposed by the judge.

Besides Neymar, 30, the defendants include his parents, representatives of both clubs, former Barca presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Rosell, and former Santos president Odilio Rodrigues.

Dressed in black, Neymar and his father chatted and laughed with former Barcelona president Rosell in a room in front of which the trial began shortly after 10 a.m.

“Neymar, with the connivance of his parents and the boards of Barcelona and Santos, betrayed the trust of my clients,” DIS lawyer Paulo Nasser told a press conference in Barcelona on Thursday.

“The real cost of the transaction (between Santos and Barcelona) was 82 million euros, and only 17 million appeared as an official transfer,” Nasser said.


He said Neymar was also not sold to the highest bidder as other clubs offered up to €60m for his services.

All of the defendants have previously repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Law firm Baker McKenzie, which defends Neymar and his family, said in a statement it would argue that Spanish courts “do not have jurisdiction to prosecute the Neymar family” because the transfer involved a Brazilian national in Brazil.

Neymar, a key member of Brazil’s squad who travel to the World Cup in Qatar next month, lost an appeal over the case to Spain‘s High Court in 2017, paving the way for trial.

It was unclear whether Neymar would be asked to stay for the full hearing, which is expected to last seven days.

Neymar played a crucial role in PSG’s win over arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille on Sunday night, scoring the game’s only goal. The team will face Ajaccio on Friday in Ligue 1, before hosting Maccabi Haifa in a Champions League match on October 25.

On Monday afternoon, the court is due to hear Andre Cury, Barca’s former point man in Brazil, whose statement and details of the negotiations regarding the player are expected to be key to the case.

Neymar is due to testify on Friday but he could seek to change the date.

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Reporting by Fernando Kallas, Guillermo Martinez, Joan Faus, Nacho Doce, Albert Gea, Horaci Garcia and Inti Landauro; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Toby Chopra and Ed Osmond

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