By Adrian Boullosa & Ben Hayward
Just one day after a judge announced that the investigation into Neymar's move from Santos to Barcelona will continue in a Spanish High Court, Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell has handed in his resignation.
Barca bought Neymar for a fee of €57.1 million in May of last year, but only €17.1m of that went to Santos, with third-party owners originally believed to have claimed the rest.
However, supermarket chain DIS say they never received their share and Barca have since admitted paying the €40m to the company co-owned by Neymar and his father, N&N.
Rosell claimed on Monday that Barcelona have "nothing to hide" over the transfer, but the Catalan club have been unable to fully explain the €40m payment and a Spanish prosecutor has now requested further documents from the current Liga leaders after claims last week that the player's contract may be 'fake'.
Barca moved quickly to deny those accusations, but prosecutors remain unconvinced by the documentation facilitated by the Catalan club and the investigation is set to continue in court. "There are sufficient grounds to carry on with the investigation," judge Pablo Ruz said on Wednesday.
And on Thursday, Barca called an emergency board meeting in which Rosell told colleagues he no longer wanted to lead the Catalan club for the remainder of his mandate, which was due to run until elections in 2016. The decision was later announced officially at a press conference at Camp Nou, with Bartomeu to take over with immediate effect.
The new man immediately vowed to defend the Catalan club against the accusations in the Neymar case, but faces a fight to clean up the club's image. Here, Goal looks at the ins and outs of the saga, plus possible further ramifications for Rosell and Barca.
|HOW DID THE CASE OCCUR INITIALLY?
The complaint was lodged against Rosell by Barcelona fan and socio Jordi Cases last month, alleging misappopriation of funds and a lack of transparency over the €40m allegedly paid to the company owned by Neymar and his father.
Cases, a lifelong fan of the Catalan club, has criticised some of the side's other initiatives in recent times, such as the shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways. Cases says he and other socios have a right to know how the money was spent, but claims he would not have pursued the case had he received a civil answer from Barcelona in the first place. "If they had told me there was no [specific] concept for that money, but that otherwise he wouldn't have joined, that would have been enough," he told reporters recently. "I would still think they were lying, but I just wanted a response."
And when no response was forthcoming, Cases decided to take his complaint to court.
|WHAT EXACTLY IS BEING INVESTIGATED?
Barcelona, Neymar and the company N&N signed a contract in Sao Paulo in 2011 with a view to the forward moving to the Catalan club in 2014, when the player's contract was due to expire.
Included was payment of €10m as a loan, to be repaid when the player moved to Barca - as stipulated in the agreement. In addition, the two parties fixed a price for Neymar's playing rights at €40m (which was to include the €10m loan). A penalty clause of €40m for breach of contract was also written into the accord.
However, the two teams ultimately agreed to bring the deal forward a year and Neymar transferred to Camp Nou in the summer of 2013. Barca agreed to specific conditions with Santos and recognised that the previous contract could not now be fulfilled. They therefore were forced to pay the €40m penalty clause.
That is seen as suspicious by the judge and the prosecutor, who are now investigating whether the transfer went through not under a conventional agreement, but through a penalty clause instead. They also suspect that the €10m loan was paid as a guarantee of a future contract, something all but admitted by Barca in Neymar's unveiling in May, but which is against Fifa rules.
Due to the mismatch between the concepts outlined in the contracts (of which it has been claimed there were as many as 12 different ones), both issues could indicate contractual simulation.
|WHAT DOCUMENTATION HAS BEEN PRESENTED BY BARCA?
So far, Barcelona have presented all of Neymar's contracts to the judge, as well as proof of the payments made in the signing of the Brazilian forward, plus financial documents for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
However, the judge and the prosecutors have requested further paperwork in order to carry out their investigation, including Fifa documentation concerning the player's transfer from Santos to Barcelona, as well as Neymar's contract with N&N that stipulated he would cede his playing rights to the company when his Santos agreement ended.
Investigators also want to see his contract with Santos and the Brazilian side's paperwork in the transfer, auditing forms from the Catalan club, independent information on the deal from finance company Deloitte and, finally, the contracts for first option on three Santos players (for which Barca paid €7.9m) and the two friendly matches between the sides (upon which the Catalan club spent an additional €9m) - both separate from the transfer itself.
|WHAT IS ROSELL ACCUSED OF AND WILL HE TESTIFY?
Rosell is accused of misappropriation of funds, an offence outlined in Article 252 of the Penal Code in Spain. The crime, if proved, can lead to imprisonment for anywhere between one and eight years.
The former Barca president has shown his willingness to give evidence. He said in a press conference on Monday: "I would ask the judge to accept the complaint and to call me to testify."
However, judge Ruz sees no need to call upon Rosell at this stage of the investigation, preferring to analyse the above-mentioned documents instead. If these prove unsatisfactory or inconclusive, though, the 49-year-old may be asked to testify at a later date.
Barca, in conjunction with Rosell, will be forced to fight the charges and the 49-year-old's resignation as club president will have little bearing on the investigation. However, Bartomeu and others may also be held accountable by Cases and could be obliged to answer questions in the case in the coming weeks and months.