Sao Paulo - Barcelona and Brazil's star
striker Neymar suffered a fresh legal blow on Tuesday when Brazilian
prosecutors filed a tax fraud and forgery case against him.
The 23-year-old and his family have denied
any wrongdoing over alleged irregularities in his superstar signing for
Barcelona in 2013.
But hours after he gave testimony in Spain
in one case, a new front opened up as federal prosecutors in Brazil launched proceedings
against him and his father.
Investigators in both countries suspect
Neymar's family and the club hid the real value of the deal under which
Barcelona signed him from Brazilian side Santos.
Barcelona valued the transfer at about $62 million, but Spanish authorities think it added up to more
than 83 million euros.
Brazil's federal prosecution service
accused the player, full name Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, and his father of
forging contracts to pay less tax.
It made the same accusations against his
father and two senior FC Barcelona management figures: the club's current
president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell.
A federal court must now decide whether to
admit the charges and put them on trial.
Last September, Brazilian authorities froze
$47 million worth of the player's assets pending investigations.
The federal prosecution service said in a
statement the charges related to "tax evasion and forgery," which
cost the state "millions" in lost taxes.
Wearing jeans and sunglasses, Neymar seemed
relaxed as he arrived at Spain's National Court in Madrid with his father
Neymar da Silva Santos, who was also called to testify before an investigating
The player signed an autograph in front of
a group of photographers before giving the thumbs-up and entering court, where
he stayed an hour and a half.
He made no comment when he left, but took a
multitude of selfies with young supporters.
Neymar and his father have defended
themselves in the media.
"Before saying nonsense - that we hid
this, or hid that - they should prove it," Neymar told Brazilian TV
station Globo on Sunday.
"My father is doing everything to
ensure that I can just focus on playing football. He handles the books. But in
the moment when you see someone you love suffering, it starts to hurt."
Bartomeu and Rosell refused to testify when
called this week, insisting on the account they had given for a previous
A representative of Santos told the judge
on Monday the club had felt cheated by Neymar and his father after details of
the transfer emerged.
Fatima Cristina Bonassa said during a
five-hour testimony that the footballer was an adult at the time of transfer
and knew what he was signing.
The transfer helped Barcelona form one of
the world's most lethal football strike forces, along with Argentine superstar
Lionel Messi and Uruguay's Luis Suarez.
But the club has faced numerous legal
headaches off the field. Messi himself has been called to stand trial from May
31 for tax fraud in a separate case.
Neymar's case hasn't affected his
performances on the field. He helped Barca to a treble title triumph last
Brazil's golden boy is now expected to
captain his country on home soil at the Rio Olympics in August.
"Neymar is perfect," said
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, commenting on the scandal.
"From zero to one million, it affects
him at 0.000001 percent," Enrique said.
"It has nothing to do with football,
this is an issue that will be resolved as it should be."