Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has directly rejected the speculation that he might have used his political contacts to influence the ongoing court investigation into Neymar’s transfer to Barcelona.
The 86.2 million euro move is currently being investigated by a Madrid court, with Barca already having made an extra payment of 13.6 million to the Spanish taxman, and possible charges still to be brought against individuals involved in the deal.
Barca figures have always maintained that the transfer was fully legal and above board, with some, including current president Josep Maria Bartomeu, suggesting that the Catalan club had been unfairly targeted by the authorities in the Spanish capital -- further hinting that the Bernabeu club’s close links with the current ruling Partido Popular may have had a role in the whole affair.
Construction magnate Perez is the guest on influential Spanish current affairs show "Salvados" to air this Sunday -- where he is asked by host Jordi Ebole whether he ‘had anything to do with the Neymar scandal?’
“You know perfectly that I did not,” Perez replies with a smile. “And it seems ridiculous to me to answer that.”
The Blancos chief also said he had felt bad when former Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell stepped down in January soon after the court investigation was confirmed.
“I called [Rosell] and left a message when he left,” Perez said. “But we have not spoken. I suppose he would be upset because his situation was not good. I always had a good relationship with him. If I see him I will embrace him, that is for sure.”
Perez’s comments come as controversy rages in Spain over the open letter titled 'Proud of Barca' written by the country’s sports minister Miguel Cardenal in El Pais this week, which offered support to the club's board and praised their conduct during the affair.
The move has been broadly welcomed by Barca club figures and pundits, but was heavily criticised by opposition politicians as an apparent intervention by the government in an ongoing court investigation.
Cardenal went on radio show El Larguero on Thursday evening to defend his actions.
“I reiterate, as I already said in the article and in a previous note, my complete respect for the judicial proceedings and for the independence of that realm,” the PP politician said.
“That is my position and always will be. I am not sorry for having written the article. Nobody suggested it to me. I want to leave that clear. Some people say this or that person suggested it -- but note there are people who like ‘political-fiction’. I thought about the subject and decided I was going to write it.”
Meanwhile La Liga president Javier Tebas has told AS that an official LFP investigation into the transfer this week has demanded the Catalan club to provide further paperwork.
“La Liga began, three weeks ago, a process of investigation into the Neymar case,” Tebas said. “The economic control committee is studying it. Yesterday or the day before more documentation was requested from Barcelona.”