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A Brief Explanation of the "Neymar" Lawsuit

The lawsuit brought together over Neymar's transfer fee has gathered pace in recent weeks and culminated in Sandro Rosell stepping down as club president, so what is really happening?

David Ramos

Neymar was singed from Brazilian club Santos in the summer of 2013 and Barcelona announced the final transfer fee as €57 million (£48.6 million). At the time of the deal, some were already suspicious at one of Brazil's brightest stars being sold for a relatively low fee, especially considering Real Madrid were planning a €100 million move for Gareth Bale. While these suspicions never completely disappeared, most started to focus on what the star was producing on the field rather then the business conducted off it.

Fast-forward to December of 2013 when club member Jordi Cases lodged an official complaint against then-president Sandro Rosell. Cases accused Rosell of not being transparent and misappropriation of funds. Misappropriation of funds is defined as "the intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorised purpose". So in this case, Cases was accusing Rosell of using Barcelona's money in an untruthful way, stating that he believed Barcelona had actually paid a significantly larger sum for Neymar Jr.

Cases, who also raised issue to the Qatar Airways sponsorship, said to Spanish newspaper El Pais that "The lawsuit is against Rosell, not against Barça. We don't think that somebody kept the money," and that "We only want to know how they account for the expenditures, because it isn't clear," The socio also claims that he would've dropped the case had Barcelona given him a civil answer but one wasn't forthcoming.

Rosell, along with other Barcelona board members, claimed that a confidentiality clause within Neymar's contract prevented them from releasing the actual figures but insisted that all the figures were correct.

The matter was eventually picked up by Spanish Judge Pablo Ruz, who decided that it was worth looking formerly at the transfer details, as petitioned by Cases. The judge requested to see documents relating to the transfer including the deals of Barcelona gaining first choice of three Santos youth players and the two friendlies arranged between the clubs.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo claimed that the judge was investigating a series of contracts signed by Barcelona between 2011 and 2013. One contract was between Barcelona and Neymar and Neymar, a company controlled by both Neymar Jr. and Neymar Sr., in which the Catalan club would pay €40 million to acquire the Brazilian's services.

Next were a string of other contracts signed after Neymar was presented as a Barça player. These contracts included four deals with Neymar Sr. in which he would receive "€4 million for bringing in Brazilian sponsors, €2 million to find "new stars" in his son's former club, Brazil's FC Santos, €2.5 million to use for charitable causes in Sao Paulo, and €2.6 million as a "commission" on a further imaging contract between Barҫa and Neymar Jr." Finally Santos would receive €17 million as part of the transfer deal.

Again, Rosell stated he was happy to work with the judge and prove no wrongdoing saying "We respect all the contracts we sign. That's why I would be delighted for the judge to summon me for questioning so I can explain all the questions related to the contract."

The day after that quote, an "extraordinary" board meeting was called and a press conference was announced that night at the Camp Nou. Rosell, along with vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, attended the conference and the Barcelona president announced he would be stepping down with immediate effect. Rosell said that threats to his family was the main reason for the decision while Bartomeu clarified that the Neymar issue was just one of many factors leading to this decision.

On Friday evening, another press conference was called in which Bartomeu announced that Neymar Sr. had lifted the confidentiality clause in his son's contract which allowed Barcelona to go public with the figures of the transfer fee. Bartomeu then handed over to director Raül Sanllehí who clarified some of the details of the deal. Sanllehí confirmed that the real cost of the was €57.1 million and that Neymar Sr. was paid €41 million of this. The director then added that Neymar Jr.'s wage over five years would be €56.7 million while Barcelona would contribute a further €2.5 million to the Neymar Foundation over the same period.

So that is where everything stands for the time being. The lawsuit remains ongoing and if Rosell is found guilty he could face an eight year stint in prison.

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