BRAZILIAN football star Neymar arrived in Barcelona on Monday for the first day of his corruption trial, related to his 2013 transfer from Brazilian club Santos to the Catalan capital.

Also present in the Provincial Court of Barcelona today were the other defendants, including his parents and the former presidents of the Barcelona Football Club, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu. They are all accused of irregularities in the transfer process that took place nearly a decade ago. 

Neymar’s court appearance today was a short one, however, after his lawyer requested he be allowed to leave given that last night he played a match for his current team, Paris Saint-Germain, against Olympique de Marseille. Neymar’s team won thanks to him scoring the only goal of the game. 

The judge raised a laugh in the courtroom, according to news agency reports, when he stated that “it is notable that Mr Da Silva was scoring a goal while I was in bed”. 

The public prosecutor is demanding a two-year prison sentence for Neymar, while the private prosecution brought by Brazilian investor DIS wants five years. 

DIS, which owned 40% of the player’s sporting rights when he was at Santos, claims that the true cost of the transfer was kept from the company and as a result it received a lower share. 

Neymar is not the only high-profile foreign football player to have fallen foul of the law in Spain in recent years. 

In 2016, then-Barcelona player Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio, were sentenced to 21 months’ jail time for three tax offences. The Argentine avoided serving any prison time after paying a more than €250,000 fine. 

Meanwhile, former Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo was given a two-year suspended sentence in 2018 and slapped with a €16.8 million fine for evading some €15 million in tax between 2011 and 2014.

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