Black suit, black shirt and black tie, and a serious expression behind the sunglasses – that’s how Brazil’s soccer star Neymar, accompanied by several lawyers, appeared before the Barcelona district court. A trial against the soccer star and other defendants for alleged fraud and corruption when the professional switched from FC Santos to FC Barcelona in 2013 began there on Monday. The public prosecutor’s office is demanding two years’ imprisonment for Neymar and a fine of ten million euros. A private prosecutor is even pushing for a five-year prison sentence for Neymar. The 30-year-old has denied all allegations. The oral hearing is scheduled to take place by October 31.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, his team-mate at PSG Lionel Messi and coach José Mourinho, Neymar already had a number of prominent predecessors in the dock of the Spanish tax and financial authorities. Whether the Brazilian actually has to fear prison is questionable. In Spain, prison sentences of up to two years are almost always suspended for those who have no previous convictions – this also applies to Ronaldo, Messi and Mourinho.
Parents and ex-presidents also accused
Neymar, who shot his club Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-0 win over Olympique Marseille on Sunday, is not due to testify until Friday. In addition to Neymar, who has been playing for the French champions since 2017, his parents and two ex-Presidents of FC Barcelona, Josep Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, are also accused. The prosecutor’s office demands the highest sentence for Rosell: five years.
All of the suspects had previously denied the allegations. The judiciary had already ordered the opening of criminal proceedings in 2017 after Neymar and Barça failed with an appeal. It is about a lawsuit by the Brazilian investment fund DIS in connection with the transfer of Neymar to Barcelona in 2013. DIS held a 40 percent stake in Neymar and feels that it has been cheated out of a sum of millions. According to the investigations of the Spanish authorities, significantly more money is said to have flowed for the change than officially announced.