Football: Neymar risks prison term over 2013 move to Barca from Santos, says Spanish magistrate

The case surrounds allegations of "corruption" and "fraud" in Neymar's move to Barcelona. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - A Spanish magistrate leading an investigation into alleged irregularities in Neymar's move to Barcelona in 2013 said on Wednesday (Oct 31) that the Brazilian superstar could face up to six years in prison.

"The term imposed, in principle, could be between four and six years," said a decree issued by judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

Twenty-six-year-old Neymar, his parents, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell are all awaiting trial over alleged corruption concerning Neymar's move to the Spanish LaLiga giants in 2013.

The Brazilian international forward is now with Paris Saint-Germain in France's Ligue 1.

The case, which follows a complaint by DIS, a Brazilian group which part-owned the rights to Neymar, surrounds allegations of "corruption" and "fraud" in the player's move to Barcelona.

Neymar moved in May 2013 for a reported fee of €57.1 million (S$89.8 million currently). Although no financial details of the deal were revealed by either Barcelona or his Brazilian club Santos, Neymar's parents were said to have received €40 million and Santos €17.1 million.

In January 2014, prosecutors in Madrid began investigating the transfer because documents requested by the authorities contained contradictory information.

Rosell resigned from his post as president a week later and Barcelona subsequently revealed they had actually paid €86.2 million for the Brazilian star.

DIS, which received €6 million of the €17.1 million given to Santos, alleges that Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to mask the true cost of the deal.

Bartomeu, Rosell, Barcelona, Santos and its former president, Odilio Rodrigues Filho, are now expected to answer charges of fraud, according to the decree.

Because the prison term involved exceeds five years, three judges are set to preside over Neymar's trial, which is expected to be heard at the Audiencia Nacional, a high court with jurisdiction over Spanish territory as well as over international crimes which come under the jurisdiction of Spanish courts.

Whether Neymar faces a prison term remains to be seen, however.

In May 2017, the Spanish authorities said Neymar should stand trial but no date has yet been set.

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