The Neymar transfer is one big hot steaming legal mess

Barcelona’s signing of Neymar is turning out to be one of the most litigious of all time. There is already a case opened against Barça’s former and current presidents, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, for tax fraud on the deal. If they are found guilty, they could face real jail time.

Now, a new investigation has been opened at the request of a Brazilian sports marketing agency called DIS, which owned 40 percent of Neymar’s rights at the time of the transfer. According to DIS, Santos (Neymar’s original club), Barça and Neymar’s family colluded to screw DIS out of roughly 40 million euros.

The ins, outs, and what have yous of the case are pretty complicated. But basically what DIS is alleging is that:

  1. Back in 2011, Barça, with the cooperation and consent of Santos’s president, paid Neymar’s family 40 million euros to eventually sign for Barcelona. Supposedly, Neymar and his family agreed to pay a penalty of 40 million euros if Neymar were to sign for another team.
  2. According to DIS, this deal “altered the conditions of the free market,” meaning other teams were put at a disadvantage when bidding for the player, thus screwing them out of a lot of money.
  3. Barça claims that Neymar’s transfer cost a total of 17.1 million euros, which went to Santos and DIS, plus an extra 40 million euros, which went to a company owned by Neymar’s father (total of 57.1 million euros).
  4. DIS claims that had Neymar truly been on the open market, they would’ve gotten a lot more than a 17.1 million euro transfer fee (of which DIS is entitled to 40 percent).

As of right now the entities named in the lawsuit are:

  • Neymar and his father
  • Sandro Rosell (former president of Barcelona)
  • Josep Maria Bartomeu (former president of Barcelona who is now running in the elections)
  • Odilio Rodrigues (former president of Santos)
  • Luis Alvaro de Oliveira (former president of Santos)

The judge has asked Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Manchester City to submit the offers that they made to Santos for Neymar. If they are higher than what Barça paid in the end, then it would seem like there was some foul play.

Back in 2013, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez was asked why he did not sign Neymar. He said that the club looked into it and realized that the cost of the operation was 150 million euros, so they decided against it. At the time, it raised some eyebrows because Barça has always maintained that Neymar cost 57.1 million euros.

However, as Spanish tax authorities began digging into the signing, they found additional “hidden fees” paid to Santos and Neymar’s father’s company that elevated the cost of the transfer to roughly 100 million euros. These hidden fees included things like a friendly match between Santos and Barcelona (that was never played) and an agreement to sign three other Santos players (who were never signed). This, coupled with the 40 million euro “penalty” that any team would have to pay to Barca because of their 2011 agreement with Neymar, is why Florentino said that the signing would cost them close to 150 million.

It’s all a giant mess. Neymar’s transfer is now being investigated for tax fraud as well as regular ol’ fraud. Meanwhile, after his mesmerizing debut against Peru in the Copa América, Neymar looked frustrated and nervous in the next match against Colombia, which was played just as this news was breaking. That match ended with him getting a red card that will cause him to miss two matches.