A court in Spain on Tuesday acquitted Brazilian superstar Neymar of corruption charges related to his transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013.
The judges decided to acquit the nine defendants who were being prosecuted in this trial, including FC Barcelona, former club presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, Santos FC and Neymar’s father, the court said in a statement.
Neymar’s high-profile trial got underway in mid-October in Barcelona, just a month before the start of the Fifa World Cup in Qatar where the 30-year-old – who is now at French champions Paris Saint Germain – and Brazil crashed out after a penalty shootout against Croatia in the quarter finals.
Prosecutors had initially sought a two-year jail term and a 10-million-euro ($10.5 million) fine for Neymar but in a surprise move they dropped corruption and fraud charges against all the accused at the end of October.
Brazilian sports investment firm DIS, which owned 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights when he was at Santos, filed a lawsuit in 2015 alleging it had been defrauded during the player’s transfer to Barcelona.
It claimed Neymar, Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to mask the true cost of his transfer thereby cheating it of its proper share of the player’s transfer.
DIS also argued that it was not informed of the existence of an exclusivity contract in 2011 between Neymar and Barcelona.
But Spanish prosecutors, which initially shared DIS’ view, later said the firm’s allegations were not based on “evidence”.
They concluded the case was a matter for civil rather than criminal justice.
Even though prosecutors dropped their charges the case continued because the court was also considering a separate indictment filed by DIS as it is allowed by Spanish law.
DIS was seeking to recover 35 million euros it claims it was cheated of.