Spanish judge calls for Neymar to be jailed for two years

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Spain’s public prosecutor has called for Barcelona star Neymar to be sent to prison for two years for his part in a corruption case over his transfer from Brazilian club Santos to the La Liga champions in 2013, said a court filing on Wednesday.

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Judge Jose Perals also called for a five-year sentence for former Barca president Sandro Rosell and a fine of £7.18million for the club, but called for charges against current president Josep Maria Bartomeu to be dropped.

The case stems from a complaint by Brazilian investment group DIS, which owned 40 per cent of Brazil forward Neymar’s transfer rights and which alleges it received less money than it was entitled to as Barca concealed the real transfer fee.

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Barcelona have been engulfed in legal troubles over Neymar’s transfer since 2013. Rosell resigned as the club’s president in 2014 for his role in the affair and testified in court in February alongside Bartomeu, Neymar and the player’s father.

The club struck a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case and paid a £4.7million fine and avoided trial on charges of tax evasion over the transfer.

Barca thought they had brought the affair to a close when judge Jose de la Mata archived the case in June, although Spain’s public prosecutor successfully overturned the ruling in September, allowing the case to proceed.

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Neymar’s is not the only legal case involving Barcelona players of late.

Lionel Messi, along with his father, was handed a 21-month jail sentence in July, after being found guilty of tax fraud.

Messi was fined £1.7m for three counts of tax fraud, dated between 2007-09, while his father was given a £1.3m fine.

The Argentinian star has always denied any knowledge of his tax affairs, saying he concentrated on football, while his father has claimed he left it all up to financial advisers.

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In Spain, sentences of less than two years for first offences are usually suspended, meaning neither man will likely go to jail.

That decision, however, rests with the court, with the case set to be heard during the early part of 2017, with Messi and his father appealing the decision.

Earlier this year, Javier Mascherano was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for not paying all his taxes for 2011 and 2012, while Adriano is also being investigated for alleged tax fraud.

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