KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Sandro Rosell has left Barcelona behind but the recently-departed president may have bequeathed a poisoned legacy, judging by the basic facts which have emerged of the conduct of Neymar’s transfer.
Confirmation from the Brazilian superstar’s father that he and the Spanish club had signed a pre-contract up to two years before last summer’s move suggest that, in effect, player and club drove a transatlantic coach and horses through world football’s transfer regulations.
Any breach of these rules, in world federation FIFA’s own words, “shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.”
The transfer system is a permanent subject of controversy.
Players’ union FIFPro has suggested it should be abolished; governing bodies and clubs believe it contributes value not only in terms of finance and general interest but stability.
This stability element is represented by contracts which maintain a formal relationship between clubs and players over an agreed tenure.
This is the raison d’etre for the transfer windows system: some managers may not like it but they would appreciate the free-for-all alternative much less.
Current rules and regulations were drawn up, with European commission approval, after the Bosman Verdict, and are formalised within a published document entitled FIFA regulations on the status and transfer of players.
These regulations lay down that a club wishing to sign a player from another club must inform the selling club in writing before starting talks. Further, a player “shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club” if his current contract has a maximum of six months to run.
Frankly, everyone in the game understands that the precise terms of these rules are impossible to police. Buying clubs use ‘their’ agents to talk to players’ agents and/or managers and/or representatives.
How else, for example, would Robert Lewandowski have appeared on the brink of joining Bayern Munich last summer even though his contract had a year to run? Now that he is within six months of termination with Dortmund, his upcoming move to the world and European champions has been signed and sealed. All that remains is for the Poland striker to be delivered.
FIFA’s transfer lawyers can turn a blind eye to such manoeuvres because ‘parallel negotiations’ are not covered by the regulations.
However, the Neymar transfer is different and presents FIFA with an awkward challenge because the dirty linen is all being washed, brazenly, in the open. If it does nothing then its rulebook is so much public waste paper.
Not only were negotiations concluded between Neymar’s management – in fact, his father – up to two years before the deal went through but contracts were also signed at that time regarding the player’s transfer.
The fact that Santos were kept out of the loop was neither here nor there.
Neymar da Silva Senior has stated, in an interview in Brazil, that Barcelona paid him €10m in 2011 to guarantee their right to process the transfer in 2014 after the World Cup (Of course, subsequently it was agreed to hurry the deal through earlier).
Further, Neymar Sr said the money attracted no tax liability because it was a loan. Clearly, either way, formal legal paperwork was drawn up and signed by both sides.
Regarding the timing he explained: “I wanted Neymar to be able to play the World Cup free of speculation [because] he would be leaving Santos just to go to Barcelona. We had a pre-contract secured in 2011, saying the deal was closed.”
Barcelona paid N&N (Neymar & Nadine, father and mother) a further €40m on conclusion last summer of the formalities of the €17m club-to-club transfer agreement with Santos. That, whatever some Barcelona members and fans may think about the sum itself, was within the club’s rights.
FIFA keeps track of the international market through its Transfer Matching System. This stipulates that, to qualify for an International Transfer Certificate, the terms of the deal as stated by the selling club ‘match’ the terms stated by the purchaser.
In addition, commissions paid to any “club intermediary” must be set out.
The delicate question now is whether the €10m was declared to FIFA, hence:
1, If not, then the TMS rules appear to have been breached; or
2, If it was, then Barcelona may have been in breach because Neymar was not “free to conclude a contract with another club.”
A response from FIFA has been sought by this writer asking whether it is inquiring into the conduct of the Neymar transfer.
FIFA has also been asked whether, as claimed in the Spanish media, the judge reviewing a claim against Rosell’s presidency for misappropriation of funds has made a formal request for the TMS documentation.
Watch this space . . .
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