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Neymar faces trial in Spain over Barcelona transfer

Neymar reacts vs. Valencia
Neymar is likely to stand trial over charges relating to his move to Barcelona.

A Spanish judge has opened the way for Brazil star Neymar and his father to stand trial on corruption charges relating to his 2013 move to Barcelona from Santos.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell are also set to stand trial after Brazilian investment group DIS -- which owned 40 percent of Neymar's sporting rights when he completed his transfer -- complained that they had received less money than they should have done because part of the fee was concealed.

Prosecutors now have 10 days to formalise their request for a trial after Monday's ruling, made at Spain's National Court by judge Jose de la Mata.

Later on Monday, Barcelona said they will appeal against the ruling.

"The Board of Directors have decided to appeal against the interlocutory judgement made by judge José de la Mata in Madrid," a statement said. "He has proposed that the National Court open an indictment against the player, Neymar Jr, his parents, ex-president Sandro Rosell, president Jose Maria Bartomeu, and the club as a juridical person. This is in the context of the lawsuit interposed by the investment fund DIS because of the signing of the Brazilian player.

"The board expressed its surprise and total disagreement with this development and its reasoning, especially taking into account the same magistrate's decision to dismiss the case last July and no action took place against the president Bartomeu. If the judicial action starts, FC Barcelona will maintain the innocence of those who are being investigated."

Neymar previously appeared in court in February. In July, De la Mata ruled that FIFA regulations were "clearly not properly followed," but declared that the issue was not for the criminal courts to settle but for a civil court. 

However, prosecutors successfully argued in September that both Neymar and his father had been aware of potentially fraudulent dealings between Barcelona and Santos. 

Barcelona had initially stated that the fee for the 24-year-old was €57.1 million, with the majority going to companies controlled by Neymar Sr.

Of the €17.1m the club say went to Santos, DIS received €6.8m. However, prosecutors claim the total amount paid by Barca to Santos was €25.1m, meaning DIS would be entitled to an additional €3.2m. 

They say the difference comes from payments made by the Liga champions for the future acquisitions of other players, as well as partnerships for friendly matches between the clubs.

Barca released a statement in September expressing their "disagreement with the reasoning for the decision of the National Court to continue the process against Neymar, Neymar Jr., Sandro Rosell, Santos FC and FC Barcelona in the DIS case."

The Neymar family also commented on the matter, saying they remained calm because all the contracts legally, ethically and morally complied with the rules.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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