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Neymar trial opens in Barcelona ahead of FIFA World Cup


Only one month left until the World Cup, Brazilian superstar Neymar will go to trial in Spain on Monday for alleged irregularities in his move to Barcelona almost a decade ago. The trial, scheduled to open at 10:00 a.m. (0800 GMT) at the Barcelona Provincial Court, is the culmination of a years-long legal saga about his 2013 transfer from the club. Brazilian Santos. Neymar is one of nine defendants to be tried on corruption-related charges, including his parents and their N&N company, which manages his affairs.

All three are facing business corruption charges.

Investigators began investigating the transfer after filing a 2015 complaint by DIS, a Brazilian company that owned 40% of the player’s sporting rights while he was at Santos.

Barcelona said the cost of the transfer was 57.1 million euros, but prosecutors believe it was at least 83 million euros.

The club said it paid 40 million euros to N&N and 17.1 million to Santos, of which 6.8 million went to DIS.

But the DIS alleges that Neymar, Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to hide the true cost of the deal.

Among the other defendants were two former Barca presidents, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, and former Santos boss Odilio Rodrigues Filho.

– ‘Ease of deception’ –

Neymar, currently with Paris Saint-Germain, is expected to appear in court on day one, although that has not been officially confirmed.

He will testify on October 21 or October 28, but it is not known whether he will be physically present. The trial will end on October 31.

If found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison and a fine of 10 million euros ($9.7 million).

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will take a stand on Tuesday via videoconference to explain how a secret pre-2011 contract between Barca and Neymar has affected the market.

“Neymar Junior, with the complicity of his parents and FC Barcelona and its directors at the time, and Santos FC at a later stage, deceived the DIS about its legitimate financial interests,” the lawyer said. DIS’s Paulo Nasser said on Thursday.

DIS is seeking to recover 35 million euros.

– Book for the World Cup –

Neymar’s lawyers insist their client is innocent, saying that 40 million euros is “a legal signing bonus which is normal in the football transfer market”.

The player is having one of his best seasons since joining PSG following a world record €222 million transfer in 2017.

He scored the only goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win over nasty rivals Marseille at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Neymar has had nine goals and seven assists in 11 Ligue 1 matches.

But his relationship with the French international superstar Kylian Mbappe appeared tense, with the 23-year-old reportedly asking PSG to sell the Brazilian.

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Neymar is also expected to play a key role for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar, as the South American giants look to win the title for the first time since 2002, and sixth in total.

He will lead the Selecao into their opening Group G match against Serbia on November 24.

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