In his most recent blog post for Fusion, Nando Vila, co-host of “The Soccer Gods,” a program that appears on the TV channel by the same, makes an interesting observation: that Brazil forward Neymar’s (shall we say) petulant display against Colombia -- for which he received a yellow card in addition to a straight red— -- came after reports surfaced of a new investigation into his transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013, which, according to the reports, is fraught with some heavy charges, to say the least.
After a mesmerizing performance against Peru in Brazil’s first game at the Copa América, Vila notes that the Brazil captain “looked frustrated and nervous in the next match against Colombia, which was played just as this news was breaking.” Indeed, for anyone who watches Barcelona regularly, the Brazilian certainly appeared more easily agitated than usual.
Could it be that Neymar is sweating about the allegations that both he and his father, Neymar Sr., face? Either that, or the 23-year-old was extra fired up to face the team that ended his World Cup last summer after he was stretchered off the field with a broken vertebrae.
In any event, the charges brought against the pair by sports marketing agency DIS allege some serious funny stuff surrounding the player’s 2013 transfer. In case you missed it, DIS is claiming that the Neymars, along with new club Barcelona and former club Santos, colluded to cheat the company, which owned 40 percent of the player’s rights at the time of the transfer, out of roughly 40 million euros ($45 million).
How did they do that? Let’s start at the beginning.
Back in 2011, Barca paid Santos star Neymar and his family 40 million euros to eventually sign for the Catalan club. That arrangement ensured that the player and his family would have to pay a penalty of the same amount if he decided to sign for another team.
According to DIS, this deal “altered the conditions of the free market” by making the player 40 million euros more expensive for any other club wanting to sign him. By extension, it also screwed the marketing company out of a large chunk (its cut was said to be 40 percent) of what it claims was part of the player’s transfer money.
But here’s where the accounting gets fuzzy: Barca always claimed Neymar’s transfer cost a total of 57.1 million euros ($64.8 million), 17.1 million ($19.4 million) which went to Santos and DIS, plus an added 40 million that went to a company controlled by Neymar’s father. You would think this is the same 40 million that Barca paid out in 2011—but it’s not.
As Vila points out, once Spain’s tax authority began digging into all the various fees paid by Barca to both Santos and Neymar’s father’s company, the cost of the transfer grew to around 100 million euros ($113.6 million). The fees included a friendly between Santos and Barca in Brazil (which never happened) as well as an agreement to sign three other Santos players (which also never happened).
Interestingly, Real Madrid owner Florentino Perez in 2013 said that his team bowed out of the race for Neymar’s signature because he said the total cost of signing him would be upwards of 150 million-euros ($170.3 million). If you tack the 2011 penalty on to the figure Spain’s tax authorities came up with, you’d get close to 150 million-euros.
But how did Perez know it would cost that much? Was he aware of what Barca, Santos and the Neymars were up to?
Well, that may be why the judge overseeing the DIS case has asked the likes of Real, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Manchester City to submit the offers they made to Santos for Neymar. As Vila notes, if they are significantly higher than what Barca paid for the player in the end, then you can bet there was some collusion to make money disappear.
Also, let’s not forget that when Barcelona supporter Jordi Cases brought a case against the club surrounding Neymar’s transfer (which was eventually dropped), then-Barca President Sandro Rosell promptly resigned. Now, both he and current president Josep Bartomeu are facing a separate investigation for tax fraud.
Watch this space.