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Mar 4, 2014

Politician defends Barca over Neymar

Spain’s sports minister Miguel Cardenal has written an open letter in El Pais in support of Barcelona’s conduct in the controversial deal to sign Neymar.

‘Neymar cheapest Barca ever signed’

A Madrid court is continuing to investigate potential irregularities in the deal that took the Brazil international to Barca from Santos last summer.

Barca have released detailed figures saying they had paid 17.1 million euros to the Brazilian club and that an additional 40 million was paid to N&N -- a company owned by Neymar’s father -- as a “penalty clause” because the player moved a year earlier than had been agreed.

The club said additional side deals -- for services such as scouting, marketing and development work signed with both Santos and N&N -- took the total to 86.2 million euros.

Barca paid a further extra 13.6 million euros to Spain’s tax authorities last month despite disputing the notion that the “penalty clause” payment had been a means of avoiding the taxation that would have been due on a signing-on fee.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said he expects that tax payment to be returned to the club, maintaining that no fraud took place and the deal was complex but completely legal.

In a column headlined “Proud of Barca,” Popular Party (PP) politician Cardenal has now spoken out in defence of the club’s board.

“It is not my role to participate in the debate about the information given by those responsible for the signing of Neymar,” Cardenal said. “Nor to go into the area of the judges or the tax authorities.

“But what I do have clear is that in this moment nobody thinks that anyone associated with Barcelona has appropriated any sum of money, and I also see the directors with the will to fulfil their legal obligations, as in the club’s tradition, which implies, if they have been mistaken in something, a rectification.”

Blaugrana fans and pundits -- and even board members -- have suggested the investigations in Madrid have been driven by Real Madrid fans disappointed at missing out on signing the much sought-after Brazilian, even though Barca socio Jordi Cases made the initial legal complaint into the transfer.

A claim was even made that Madrid president Florentino Perez had used his political contacts within the PP to pressure the court, which brought a quick and emphatic rebuttal from the Bernabeu club.

Cardenal nevertheless wants to see the end of a campaign of what he described as “parallel justice” -- referring to the judgements being made by those not involved in the case -- which he said was damaging both Barcelona’s football club and the external image of Spain.

“I hope for the disappearance of this parallel justice, which is so damaging to the image of one of the most admired institutions in our country, so negative for the perception of our sport, so unfortunate for the projection of Spain,” he wrote. “I invite everyone, from our own responsibilities, to contribute in this for the benefit of Spanish sport, which owes Barca so much.”

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