Barcelona paid 13.55 million euros ($18.6 million) to Spanish tax authorities on Monday to cover any potential irregularities in their signing of Neymar, all the while maintaining their innocence of the fraud charges levied against the club. The Spanish champions said in a statement they paid the "complimentary" amount to cover any "eventual interpretations that could come out of the contracts signed relating to the transfer of Neymar. Meanwhile we are convinced of the legality of our initial fulfilment relating to our tax obligations."
Barcelona's actions take the price of Neymar's transfer to more than 100 million euros ($138 million) after the Catalan club initially said they paid 57.1 million euros ($74 million) for the Brazil forward. That sum does not include bonus payments made by Barcelona or the 22-year-old's salary, meaning his total cost likely exceeds the record-breaking 100 million euros-plus spent by rival Real Madrid on Gareth Bale last summer.
Spanish tax authorities charged Barcelona with fraud on Thursday, alleging they swindled the state of 9.1 million euros ($12.5 million) through payments to varying companies and false contracts. Of the initial transfer fee, Brazilian club Santos received 17.1 million euros ($23 million) while Neymar's father, who also goes by Neymar, earned 40 million euros ($55 million). The tax authorities considered the amount paid to Neymar's father as a salary, the club explained.
Barcelona said they "scrupulously" met their financial obligations in signing the player from Brazilian club Santos and they would continue to work with the state authority in the matter. Neymar's signing forced the resignation of Sandro Rosell as president last month, after one club member's petition to learn more about the intricate details of what has become a club-record signing was kept in the dark.
President Josep Bartomeu, who replaced Rosell, said Monday's figures were the final, transparent sums associated to the deal, despite having said such words previously about the initial 57.1 million euros it paid out. "We did everything we could to bring Neymar to Barca. We're very confident about our dealings, everything has been transparent," Bartomeu said. "We would do everything again exactly the same way."
Rosell has preached financial prudence while signing lucrative sponsorship deals that have put advertising on the front of Barcelona's jersey for the first time in the history of an institution that considers itself "more than a club" and a symbol of Catalan values.
Rosell was being investigated by the same Spanish court that laid the fraud charges against the club. Barcelona said the decision to make the payment came after an emergency board meeting on Sunday.
Barcelona's on-field play has also been as erratic as its off-field distractions of late as it fell behind Madrid in the standings for the first time in nearly two years over the weekend.