club | 2016-02-03
Explaining the new developments in the Neymar Case
FC Barcelona, Neymar and his father testified at court this week as one of the controversial cases continues
On Monday morning, FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu, its former president Sandro Rosell, and its director general Ignacio Mestre (as representative of the club as a legal person), made their statements before the National Court (Audiencia Nacional) as part of the investigative process that was started by a complaint filed by DIS, an investment company that owned part of Neymar’s federative rights before his transfer to the Catalan club.
Later that afternoon, the club released a statement saying “how pleased it is to have been able to explain events regarding the transfer of the player Neymar Jr.”
The current Barça president and his predecessor were inside the courtroom for just one hour and a half, both of them just ratifying the statements they had previously made to the same court when it was investigating the fiscal case connected to the Brazilian’s transfer. In those referenced previous statements – made by Sandro Rosell in the summer of 2014 when the fiscal case was investigated by Judge Pablo Ruz, who was then replaced by Judge José de la Mata, and by Bartomeu in February 2015 – they both defended the fact that the club had acted in the right way in the process of signing the forward.
The club’s spokesperson, Josep Vives, denied rumors that the men in question had refused to answer questions in front of the judge: “It’s a lie that Bartomeu and Rosell have refused to testify. Both have testified, but they have said that they ratify every point of the ample statements they had previously made in front of the same court, the same prosecutor and regarding the same actions.”
Vives concluded by saying: “We are calm and confident that justice will be done. We have done things in the correct manner.”
Mestre, the club’s general director who didn’t have this function in 2013, made a full statement confirming that all the contracts signed were completely legal. Mestre had described “in a statement of more than three hours, how the protocols and procedures that the Club observes with regard to the signing of players is based on good practices that scrupulously respect applicable legislation, and that these criteria were strictly applied to the said transfer,” the club reported.
According to sources contacted by El Confidencial, Mestre explained that the contract signed with Neymar in 2011, through which both parts agreed to pay a penalty clause of €40 million if the player didn’t move to Barcelona in the summer of 2014, didn’t block the player from receiving other offers and potentially agreeing to take up those offers, but it was just a way through which both the club and the player protected their interests.
Barça’s general director stated that Neymar only wanted to play for the Catalan club, rejecting an offer from Real Madrid that reached €100 million. Despite this previous agreement, Barça decided to make the transfer from Santos one year before Neymar’s contract ended because of sporting reasons. As a result, they had to pay Santos €17 million.
Mestre stated that the player didn’t move to Madrid because he didn’t want to, not because he had been blocked by Barça, despite the fact that the offer from the capital club was better from a financial point of view.
The director also rejected the claim that the deal for the two friendly games between the club and Santos was a false one. He said that one of the two had already been played at the Gamper Trophy in 2013 while the other one had not been scheduled yet because Santos had not replied to any of the faxes sent by Barça informing them of what dates were convenient from their point of view. The game can still be played until the summer of 2018, when Neymar’s contract with Barcelona ends.
Regarding the contract for the right of first refusal over three Santos academy players, Mestre said that two of them were offered to Barça when they left the Brazilian club, but that the club didn’t acquire them because they didn’t fit the team’s profile while the third one is still at Santos and is currently being monitored.
The club’s press release also noted that “This is the first time that FC Barcelona has appeared as a legal person to make a statement at the National Court,” saying that they had requested this procedure to happen in the course of the investigation of the fiscal case, but that the request was denied. “The Club therefore presented an appeal to the Barcelona Provincial Court, which is still pending resolution,” they added.
That same day, the court also heard testimony from the representative of Santos FC, Fátima Cristina Bonassa, who said that the Brazilian club had felt cheated by how this transfer was done. According to reports, in a statement that took longer than six hours, Bonassa insisted that Neymar was aware of the type of transfer that was being done because he was of legal age and knew what he was signing, but that he insisted that he only wanted to go to Barça. For that reason, Santos was forced to accept the €17.1 million offer.
She explained that in Brazil the transfers are chosen by the players as a consequence of the “Pelé Law” which requires club to have the authorization of the player in question in order to finalize the transfer. Bonassa also stated that after knowing the results of the investigation that had been opened in Spain, Santos’ representatives understood Neymar’s insistence for going to Barça and no other club.
On Tuesday, it was Neymar and his father's turn to testify in front of the judge. The player landed in Madrid on a private flight after 16:00, was picked up by a car and arrived at the National Court with his father, his lawyers, and Barça’s spokesman, Josep Vives, a few minutes before 17:00 when he was scheduled to appear in court. He left the courthouse around 18:40 while his father was stating in front of the judge that any problem arising from the transfer was completely the father’s responsibility, all the while defending the legality of the deal with Barça.
The player’s mother, who is also under investigation in this case, was not in Madrid as she will offer her testimony in Brazil by means of the judicial assistance agreements existing between the two countries.
Neymar looked calm and composed while walking in and out of the proceedings, stopping to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans that were gathered there and even with some of the police officers in charge of maintaining order. He was first scheduled to appear in court at 10 in the morning, but the hearing got postponed due to a request from one of the lawyers who was due in court in another proceeding at the same time.
The forward stated in front of the judge that his interest was just to play for Barça and that he had nothing to do with the contents of the contracts.
According to El Confidencial, Neymar said, “I was happy at Santos. I thought that only at Barça I could be as happy as I was there.” Neymar Senior absolved his son from all blame by saying that the player didn’t have anything to do with the handling of his transfer. He claimed that Neymar is only concerned with playing football and that the player never intervened in the contract negotiations that are the subjects of the investigation. He answered all the questions put to him by the judge, detailing the contracts and repeating that there was no fraud or simulation involved.
According to reports from Catalunya Ràdio, Neymar’s father admitted that his son had always wanted to move to Barça more than any other club that could have paid more because of his desire to play with Messi at the blaugrana club. To reinforce this, he mentioned that the player’s only desire now is to renew his contract despite having received better offers from another club.
According to El Confidencial, Neymar Sr denied the fact that the contract signed in November 2011 had altered the free market as DIS claimed in their complaint: “What we negotiated then was a preferential acquisition right,” he said, regarding the contract through which Neymar had agreed to go to FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014 once his contract with Santos had ended.
All of these testimonies are part of the investigation of a second case related to the transfer of Neymar to FC Barcelona. The first case is the fiscal one currently at the Barcelona Provincial Court, with the trial phase expected to start later this year (details here).
This second case was opened after a complaint filed by DIS, an investment company that had 40 percent of the player’s federative rights while he was at Santos. Their complaint was not accepted initially, but then Judge De la Mata opened the investigative process in June of 2015 under suspicions of private corruption and fraud in the form of simulated contracts.
The Brazilian company contends that they were the victims of fraud because they were left out of the two additional deals made between the two clubs – the preferential right over three Santos academy players for which Barça paid €7.9 million and the agreement for two friendly games to be played between the two teams during the first five years of Neymar’s stay at Barça, the Catalan club having to pay €4.5 million if the second game won’t be played.
Barça claims that these two deals had nothing to do with the transfer and that DIS has no right to claim any money from them. The private corruption accusation stems from the belief of the Brazilian company that by signing the preferential deal with Barça in 2011, Neymar denied them the right to enter the player into the free transfer market and possibly get more money for him. You can read more details of this complaint here and about the contracts signed in relation to Neymar’s transfer here.
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Diari Ara, Diario AS, Sport, El Confidencial, Catalunya Radio
WRITTEN BY: Diana Uzum
Barcelona fan since the days of Kluivert and Rivaldo. Been here for the good, the bad and the ugly.