Barcelona deny lies in Neymar deal probe

Barcelona's new boss declared Friday the club had "never lied" as he revealed for the first time financial details of a disputed €57.1 million ($78 million) signing of Brazilian star Neymar, a deal that helped to topple his predecessor.

Barcelona deny lies in Neymar deal probe
Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

"We never lied," 50-year-old club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu told his first news conference.

A day after former president Sandro Rosell resigned because of a judicial wrangle over the Neymar deal, Bartomeu said the player's father had given permission for previously confidential details of the transfer to be made public.

The Neymar transfer cost €57.1 million euros, plus a €2-million-euro bonus if the 21-year-old international makes the finals of the FIFA World Player of Year award, footballing business manager Raul Sanllehi told the news conference.

In addition, Neymar gets an annual salary of €11.3 million euros to be paid over five years, he said.

Barcelona said the Brazilian was drawn not by money but by the lure of the club and its star, Lionel Messi.

"The player decided to come to Barca with a lower offer than he could have obtained from other clubs because he was very excited to come," Sanllehi said.

Barcelona said the entire deal cost €86.2 million: €57.1 million for the transfer, €10 million euros in a signing bonus, €2.7 million in commissions, €4.0 million in marketing, €2.5 million for Neymar's foundation and €9.9 million in scouting and collaborative deals.

Barcelona's new boss said Neymar's father agreed to let the club reveal the figures because he believed the scandal over the signing was "unfair".

"He repeated that many people have not forgiven his son Neymar Junior for coming to Barcelona rather than going to other teams and accepting more generous offers," Bartomeu said.

Rosell resigned Thursday, a day after a judge agreed to hear a case made against him by one of the club's own members for alleged misappropriation of funds in the deal which brought Neymar to the Camp Nou last year.

Rosell had routinely insisted that Neymar cost the club €57.1 million but refused to divulge details on confidentiality grounds.

That led club member Jordi Cases to launch the case against Rosell last month for not informing the club's members as €40 million of the fee was supposedly paid to Neymar family firm N&N.

The club were subsequently asked to submit the contracts that sealed the player's arrival in Catalonia, as well as Barca's financial accounts for the past three years.

And the judge, Pablo Ruz, decided that the documentation handed over reveals "sufficient elements" for an investigation to go ahead.

Barcelona's break down of the €57.1 million transfer cost showed €40 million euros went to the Neymar family firm N&N, and €17.1 million was devoted to the transfer from Santos FC.

Neymar's salary amounted to a total of €56.7 million over five years and was comprised of a total €10 million signing bonus, a €44 million salary and a commission of €2.7 million.

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Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.