Good On The Field, Bad Off Of It
It’s a good time to be an FC Barcelona fan. They’re first in La Liga, Messi is healthy, Neymar has returned from his ankle injury and they’ve a 2-nil lead on Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League. But while Barça is succeeding on the pitch these are troubling times for the club in the legal world. Former President, Sandro Rosell, resigned amidst the swirling accusations that Barcelona paid more for Brazilian star Neymar than they had announced. Now a Spanish court has charged the club with tax fraud over Neymar’s signing.
A court spokesman commented. “Judge Pablo Ruz has charged FC Barcelona with an infringement against the tax authority relating to the purchase of the Brazilian player,” the spokesman said. Barça denied wrongdoing after local media reported on Wednesday that Spain’s public prosecutor had asked Judge Ruz to lay fraud charges against the club.
“The club’s actions have, at all times, regarding that operation (to sign Neymar) and in line with the available information, been fully compliant with existing law,” Barça said in a statement. The Spanish champions added they would be sending legal representatives to court “in the coming days” to defend their rights and interests. “At the same time (Barça) states its complete availability to collaborate with the justice authorities in this process, as it has been doing from the first moment, or in any other that might require its intervention.”
Rosell stepped down with the intention of protecting the club’s image in light of the revelation that Barcelona had paid €86.2 million, including secret payments to Neymar and his family, instead of the €57.1 million they had reported. Neymar’s former club, Santos, as well as their fans were very upset upon hearing this news and Santos President Odilio Rodrigues called the deal “unacceptable” especially regarding the payments made to Neymar’s father.
The club’s legal team will certainly have their hands full and the players must provide good results to keep the minds of their fans off of the storm that might be brewing.