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Barcelona to pay multi-million euro fine over Neymar transfer

Barcelona has said it will pay a 5.5 million euro fine relating to the transfer of Neymar. Spanish authorities believe the move to buy the Brazilian football star was undervalued, allowing the club to pay less in taxes.

The Catalan club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu said that the decision to pay the fine was a difficult one, but ultimately "the best option" for the reigning Spanish champions.

By agreeing to pay Spanish authorities, the club avoided trial and tax evasion charges.

"It was better to accept this agreement than continue on with the uncertainty that has dragged on for a long time over the Neymar case," Bartomeu said. "We have had to accept paying a 5.5 million euro fine due to a mistake in the 2011 and 2013 tax planning in the signing of Neymar."

The agreement also means prosecutors will not pursue criminal proceedings against Bartomeu and former club president Sandro Rosell, who was in charge at the time of Neymar's transfer.

Authorities accused Barcelona of concealing part of Neymar's transfer fee when he joined from Brazilian club Santos in 2013. The Catalans initially originally published the transfer figure as 57.1 million euros, but Spanish prosecutors said the fee was actually closer to 100 million euros.

Authorities launched the tax inquiry after a club member questioned the figures Barcelona originally reported on the transfer.

Brazilian investment fund DIS, which held 40 percent of Neymar's sporting rights while he was at Santos, also said it was deprived its full share of the transfer fee because Barcelona had hidden the true cost of the deal.

Neymar was one of the most sought-after talents in world football when he moved from Brazil to Spain three years ago. He has been a huge success at Barcelona, winning two league titles and helping the club to victory in the 2015 Champions League final.

dr/rd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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