BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A Spanish judge agreed on Wednesday to hear a lawsuit brought by a Barcelona club member against president Sandro Rosell regarding the cost of the transfer for Brazil striker Neymar.
After a preliminary examination of the contracts involved in Neymar's signing, judge Pablo Ruz wrote in a ruling there is "sufficient elements for the admission of the lawsuit" brought by club member Jordi Cases.
On Monday, Rosell insisted the total cost of 57 million euros (then $74 million) to bring Neymar from Brazilian club Santos announced at the player's presentation last June was correct.
Cases alleges the amount paid by the Spanish champions was higher and that Rosell misappropriated funds by hiding the real cost to the club behind false contracts, a criminal offense punishable by up to six years of prison.
Cases told El Pais newspaper on Monday "the lawsuit is against Rosell, not against Barca."
"We don't think that somebody kept the money," Cases said. "We only want to know how they account for the expenditures, because it isn't clear."
Barcelona is owned by its more than 160,000 members, who elect a president and governing board.
Barcelona made 482.6 million euros ($654 million) in revenue last season, second only to fierce rival Real Madrid, according to accountancy firm Deloitte.
Rosell and other members of his board have repeatedly said the contracts involved in Neymar's transfer included confidentiality clauses that don't allow them to reveal the exact amount of the 57 million euros received by Santos, and the three companies, DIS, TEISA and N&N, who owned shares of Neymar's rights.
To proceed with the suit, Ruz asked that FIFA and the Brazilian football federation present documentation related to the Neymar transfer; Neymar da Silva Santos Junior provide the contract he signed with the company N&N, run by his father Neymar Silva Santos, that ceded it his "future economic rights"; and for Barcelona to hand over contracts for the payment of 7.9 million euros for the rights to three Santos "youth players" and the contracts for the payment of 9 million euros to play two friendlies with Santos.