Barcelona star Neymar will stand trial for alleged fraud and corruption in the transfer that brought him from Santos to Catalonia in 2013, a Spanish court decided on Friday (NZ time).
The National Court also ordered Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell, as well as the two clubs, Barcelona and Brazil s Santos, to be sent to trial over the affair.
Bartomeu, Rosell, Barcelona andSantos also face trial on fraud charges, along with formerSantospresident Odilio Rodrigues, the statement said.
The transfer figure originally published by Barcelona was €57.1m (£48.4m) with €40m euros (£33.9m) of that given to his family.
Even if Neymar were to be found guilty, he is unlikely to serve a prison term, with sentences of under two years typically suspended by Spanish jurisdiction.
The case came into light when a complaint was filed by Brazilian supermarket firm DIS, which owned 40 percent of Neymar's transfer rights.
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DIS received a 40 percent share of the remaining €17.1 million (about R256.2m) that was paid toSantos.
However, DIS also recommended that Neymar be banned from playing football during any judicial sentence.
Both Barcelona and Neymar were subsequently charged for tax fraud.
In July 2016 a judge ruled that irregularities in the transfer were detected but said it was an issue for a civil court, not a criminal court, to settle.
Santos and DIS maintained they had lost out on millions, with the latter claiming to be owed around €16m more than its €6.8m payment. Last year, superstar Lionel Messi was handed a 21-month suspended sentence for tax fraud.
Barca have won back-to-back Spanish league and Cup doubles with the trio and won the Champions League in 2015.