Neymar new
Former FC Barcelona player Neymar waves on arrival at a court in Barcelona in October this year. Image Credit: AP file

Barcelona: A court in Spain on Tuesday acquitted Brazilian superstar Neymar of corruption charges related to his transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013.

The judges decided to acquit the nine defendants who were being prosecuted in this trial, including FC Barcelona, former club presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, Santos FC and Neymar’s father, the court said in a statement.

Neymar’s high-profile trial got under way in mid-October in Barcelona, just a month before the start of the World Cup in Qatar where the 30-year-old — who is now at French champions Paris Saint Germain — and Brazil crashed out after a penalty shoot-out against Croatia in the quarter-finals.

Surprise move

Prosecutors had initially sought a two-year jail term and a €10 million fine for Neymar but in a surprise move they dropped corruption and fraud charges against all the accused at the end of October.

Brazilian sports investment firm DIS, which owned 40 per cent of Neymar’s sporting rights when he was at Santos, filed a lawsuit in 2015 alleging it had been defrauded during the player’s transfer to Barcelona.

It claimed Neymar, Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to mask the true cost of his transfer thereby cheating it of its proper share of the player’s transfer.

DIS also argued that it was not informed of the existence of an exclusivity contract in 2011 between Neymar and Barcelona.

No evidence

But Spanish prosecutors, which initially shared DIS’ view, later said the firm’s allegations were not based on “evidence”.

They concluded the case was a matter for civil rather than criminal justice.

Even though prosecutors dropped their charges the case continued because the court was also considering a separate indictment filed by DIS as it is allowed by Spanish law.

DIS was seeking to recover €35 million it claims it was cheated of.