Mysteries of Brazilian's signing revealed
28 January ~ When Barcelona president Sandro Rosell signed Neymar last summer, he wouldn't have imagined he was compromising his own position. The young Brazilian was pursued by other top European clubs and beating Real Madrid to his signing was seen as a victory for Rosell. A little more than six months later and the controversy hanging over Neymar's contract has forced Barça's president to resign. The signing didn't seem as vital to the fans as it did to Rosell, who wanted to make his mark on a team showing signs of fatigue after years of dominance.
Neymar was the biggest target in his four years in charge, and his contacts in Brazil – Rosell was Nike's marketing manager in South America – made the move possible. There were some clauses of confidentiality, though, which were not particularly welcome in a members-owned club with a tradition of valors (values) above football, or so they are always keen to stress.
One of those club members, Jordi Cases, believed the amount paid for the player was higher than the stated €57.1 million (£47.1m) and also had the suspicion that Rosell might have misappropriated Barça funds in the process, so he brought the case to the Spanish national court. Based on the evidence, the judge Pablo Ruz accepted the lawsuit and prompted Rosell to disclose the terms of the secret contract.
With the pressure from the media and the club's members mounting up Rosell, who won his presidential election in June 2010 with a club-record number of votes, was forced to resign last Thursday, alleging "threats and attacks" to his family. He had already been widely criticised for the deterioration of his relationship with club legends Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, whose departure he was held personally responsible for by some fans.
The resignation of Rosell doesn't look like a major regime change, as his vice-president Josep Antoni Bartomeu had been the designated successor. Nevertheless, the new president started his time in charge by answering all of the questions Rosell avoided, revealing all the details in Neymar's transfer contract, although they had already been leaked. The numbers show that the amount paid by Barça for the Brazilian can reach €86.2m, including some investments in charities that have yet to be clarified. Jordi Cases, the member who brought the case to court, is expected to withdraw the lawsuit this week, stating that with Rosell's resignation he has already made his point. It is more or less irrelevant, a kind of a symbolic act, as the public prosecutor has declared he will continue with the investigation regardless
The new president Bartomeu says that he regretted Cases's decision to take the case to Madrid's national court in the first place. "In Madrid there is a prosecutor we don't know, who is not one of us. The lawsuit should have been made at home [in Barcelona]". He also implied that envy is behind the interest taken in the case in the Spanish capital. "If they cannot win on the pitch, they try to win in the offices", he said, trying to turn the issues into a national confrontation between Spain and Catalonia.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, the case has backfired on Santos after it was revealed that the club only got €17m of the total sum. Some of the club's executives feel they have been "fooled" by Barcelona and Neymar's father, and say they have only got "the leftovers" for the 55 per cent of the player's rights they owned. Antonio Mateo