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Neymar on trial in Spain and could face a five-year prison term

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By Martin Graham | 14th Oct 2022

An investment firm in Brazil claims to be shortchanged by Neymar and Barcelona in the transfer to the Catalan giants. DIS is now asking for a five-year prison term for the Brazilian forward.

FIFA have worked hard to end third-party ownership of players, and while such cases are rare now, there is more work to ensure it no longer exists in the game. A notorious case of third-party ownership is that of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

The two Argentine players found themselves in England, where they played for West Ham. Manchester United also landed the services of Carlos Tevez, and the whole deal had the blood of Sir Alex Ferguson boiling.

Third-party ownership is quite common in South America, with many players owned by multiple parties. The massive poverty in the region has enabled the situation to thrive. Neymar is facing trial for fraud and corruption, but there are calls for the Brazilian superstar to face jail terms over his transfer to Barcelona.

Neymar stands trial over corruption charges

Neymar is standing trial for fraud and corruption. The Brazilian forward should be in court next week for charges relating to his transfer from Santos to Barcelona. Neymar is trying to extricate himself, as a Brazilian firm has called for the player to face a five-year prison sentence.

DIS owned 40% of the rights to Neymar while he played for Santos. The firm argues that they lost money in their investment in Neymar because they undervalued the fee that saw him move to Barcelona.

Neymar denied the allegations by DIS, but he lost an appeal in the High Court in Spain in 2017.

Neymar, who is about to feature for Brazil in the World Cup in Qatar next month, will have to appear in court personally for the first day of the trial in Barcelona on Monday. The picture remains blurry as no one is sure if he will stay for the entire hearing, which could last two weeks.

Others involved in the case

Neymar is not the only person involved in the case. He stands trial with others, including his parents, former Barcelona presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, and former Santos president Odilio Rodrigues.

Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell were involved in the financial scandal that brought Barcelona to its current mess. Just like Neymar, Sandro Rosell has denied any wrongdoing.

Baker McKenzie represents the Neymar family. They claim the Spanish courts do not have the jurisdiction to prosecute the Neymar family and their company N&N. According to Baker McKenzie, the acts were by Brazilian nationals outside Spanish territory.

They also claim that in Brazil, where the acts were committed, the crimes were not punishable.

DIS bought a part of Neymar’s rights at 17. They acquired the rights for 2 million euros. When Barcelona signed Neymar, they claimed the transfer fee was 57.1m euros, of which they paid 40 million euros to his family. The investment firm received a 40% share of the remaining 17.1m euros paid to Santos.

DIS claim Neymar was not sold to the highest bidder and are asking for a five-year jail term for Neymar and prison sentences for Rosell and Bartomeu, plus a 149m euros fine.

Baker McKenzie claims the transfer did not break any FIFA rules.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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