Soccer

Barcelona chief asks to be summoned to court over Neymar allegations

Sandro Rosell reiterates claim club paid 57.1 million euros for Brazil forward

Sandro Rosell during Monday's press conference.
Sandro Rosell during Monday's press conference.ALBERT GEA / REUTERS

The president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, has called on the judge investigating an allegation of embezzlement over the signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar to summon him to court, and to do so as quickly as possible. “I hope that I am summoned by the judge,” Rosell said at a press conference Monday. “I will explain everything that I am asked to explain and all that is required. There is nothing to hide. And I ask that the process be done as quickly as possible. We reaffirm for the umpteenth time that Neymar cost 57.1 million euros, and that is all that needs to be said on the matter.”

Rosell called the press conference after a story published in Spanish daily El Mundo on Monday claimed that Barcelona actually forked out closer to 95 million euros to sign Neymar from Brazilian club Santos. That figure was reached by means of add-ons to the transfer fee for the player such as commissions, signing-on fees and publicity. FC Barcelona does not deny the existence of these add-ons, attributing them to parallel operations and salary top-ups to reach Neymar’s 11-million-euro per year wages. However, the club is adamant that the cost of signing the player was 57.1 million euros, as stated in the necessary paperwork lodged with Santos, Fifa and the player’s representatives.

The investigation was launched after a lawsuit filed by a club member, Jordi Cases, over the original payments made for Neymar: 17 million to Santos and 40 million euros to the player’s holding company, Neymar & Neymar, which is owned by his father, for image and federative rights. Cases, a pharmacist who holds a season ticket in the third tier of Camp Nou, lodged his complaint after asking the club to clarify the deal and receiving no reply. “I just wanted to know on what grounds they paid 40 million euros to a company owned by the player’s father,” Cases said this week. “If they had told me ‘for no reason, but if we hadn’t Neymar wouldn’t have joined Barça,’ that would have sufficed. I would have assumed they were lying but I just wanted an answer.”

The investigation was launched after a lawsuit filed by a club member

El Mundo reported that the amount of the add-ons to the player’s contract tallied with declarations by Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, who also tried to sign the player last summer but withdrew from the bidding war stating that the operation was going to cost Barcelona in the region of 100 million euros.

However, Rosell reiterated that one issue is the amount paid for the player and another is add-ons and salary top-ups contained in confidential clauses. “One of the preconditions concerning the contracts of players and coaches is that they are confidential,” Rosell said at the press conference. “Even a judge would not insist that we must explain them but if I am asked to break our confidentiality code in court, I am only too happy to do so.”