July 7, 2020 / 4:51 PM / a month ago

CAS dismisses Santos case against Barca over Neymar transfer

BARCELONA (Reuters) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected Brazilian club Santos’ case against Barcelona relating to the signing of Neymar in 2013, the Spanish club said in a statement on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Brazilian soccer player Neymar (R) shakes hands with Barcelona's president Sandor Rosell after signing a five-year contract with FC Barcelona, in front of their offices close to Camp Nou stadium. June 3, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

Santos had presented a claim to soccer’s world governing body FIFA in 2015 asking for 61,295,000 euros ($69.21 million) in compensation and damages after Barca made a payment to Neymar’s father and the family company N&N before signing the Brazil forward for an initial fee of 57 million euros.

“The CAS found that the contract between Santos and Neymar was ended by mutual agreement and that Barcelona did not flout the transfer agreement when it paid additional fees to the player’s father and the firm N&N,” Barca said.

“Barcelona did not commit any fraudulent conduct when it signed a pre-transfer agreement with Neymar nor when it signed the transfer with Santos.”

The statement added that Santos had been ordered by CAS to pay Barca’s legal fees of 20,000 Swiss Francs ($21,253.99).

Santos released a statement saying they “regret but respect the decision”, adding that the club was “undeniably hurt by the transfer”.

Neymar’s transfer from his boyhood club to Barcelona was shrouded in legal troubles, leading Spain’s High Court to launch a fraud and corruption investigation into the player, who denied any wrongdoing, over the value of his transfer.

The investigation also led to Barca’s then president Sandro Rosell, who brokered the deal, resigning from the club in 2014.

Neymar enjoyed a trophy-laden four years at Barcelona and formed a world-beating front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez before joining Paris St Germain for a world record fee of 222 million euros.

Neymar then sued Barca over the partial payment of a loyalty bonus worth 26 million euros but lost the case and was ordered to pay his former club 6.7 million euros for breach of the last contract he signed with them in 2016.

Despite their legal battles, the Brazilian tried to force through a return to Barcelona last year and refused to train with PSG at one point, but the Catalans ultimately failed to meet the French side’s asking price.

Barca were expected to make another swoop for him this summer but president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Wednesday the club were unlikely to make another offer for Neymar due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by Richard Martin, additional reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris

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