Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 24th 2015 Contents A68
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 24, 2015
MADRID---Spain s prosecutor yes-
terday requested the National Court
open a trial against Barcelona foot-
ball club, its current president Josep
Bartomeu and his predecessor
Alexandre "Sandro" Rosell for alleged
tax evasion, including in the signing
of Brazil striker Neymar.
In a statement, the prosecutor called
for jail terms of more than two years
for Bartomeu and more than seven
years for Rosell, as well as the impo-
sition of large fines.
The prosecutor called for club itself
to be fined 22,202,750 euros ($24 mil-
lion) for alleged false accounting in
the tax returns of 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Investigating judge Pablo Ruz had
on March 13 named Bartomeu and
Rosell in a tax fraud and fraudulent
administration probe into the 2013
signing of the Brazil star.
The judge alleged the club and its
management fabricated a labyrinth of
contracts to conceal the real cost of
At the time, Ruz set a deadline of
10 days for the prosecutor to submit
an indictment setting out the penalties
it sought for the defendants.
The prosecutor has agreed with Ruz
that Barcelona paid at least 84 million
euros (then some $108 million) for
Neymar, and that by presenting a
lower figure the club allegedly reduced
its tax burden in a fraudulent man-
The club insists the cost was 57
million euros (then $74 million).
In a statement released late yester-
day, Barcelona said the club, Bartomeu
and Rosell were innocent, and that
the National Court was not the correct
place to resolve a matter when there
was a "lack of any crime."
Barcelona has denied any wrong-
doing and, shortly after hearing of
Ruz s decision, said it would appeal.
Yesterday s statement said it was
instructing lawyers to present "the
Bartomeu took over when Rosell
resigned in January 2014 when he was
named a suspect in the case and
investigated for misappropriating
funds to hide the transfer cost.
But the prosecutor said both Bar-
tomeu and Rosell s signatures appear
on contracts linked to Neymar s sign-
ing and that they must have been
equally aware of the implications.
Ruz has not set a trial date.
This is the latest twist in a series
of legal cases engulfing Barcelona.
Star forward Lionel Messi and his
father are also being investigated for
allegedly defrauding Spain s Tax Office
of 4 million euros ($5.3 million) in
unpaid taxes from 2007-09.
The club has been banned from
making transfers during 2016 after
FIFA said it had broken rules regarding
the signing of youth players.
However, Barcelona s legal troubles
have not hurt the team s performance
so far. Barcelona leads the Spanish
league by four points with 10 rounds
to go and is still vying for Champions
League and Copa del Rey silverware.
calls for trial, jail
for Barca boss
VIENNA---Europe s World Cup qualifying process
is being based on 13 available places for the 2018
tournament, even though UEFA thinks it deserves
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said
yesterday that Europe will retain the same format
of nine qualifying groups. The nine group winners
will advance to play in Russia, and the eight best
runners-up will enter a playoff round.
With Russia automatically qualified as host,
Europe is already set to have 14 teams in the 32-
Still, FIFA has invited its six confederations to
pitch for more guaranteed qualifying slots at a May
30 session of its executive committee. Infantino
said it would be "objective and fair" for UEFA to
seek an extra slot after European teams won the
past three World Cups.
In recent years, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has
encouraged other continents to seek more World
Cup places, likely at Europe s expense.
"To crown the best team you must have the best
teams," Infantino said after a UEFA executive com-
FIFA will draw the World Cup qualifying groups
on July 25 in St Petersburg.
Europe s 52 eligible teams, which do not include
UEFA member Gibraltar, will be drawn into seven
six-team groups, and two groups of five.
Gibraltar could be added to the draw if its football
federation wins an appeal in May at the Court of
Arbitration for Sport. It is challenging FIFA s refusal
to accept the British territory as a member.
Big increases in revenue for UEFA s club com-
petitions over the next three seasons were confirmed
at the executive meeting.
UEFA will share 2.24 billion euros ($2.45 billion)
each year in prize money and solidarity payments
to clubs across Europe, after broadcasting and spon-
sorship deals for the Champions League and Europa
League rose more than 30 percent.
Infantino said Champions League clubs would
share 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) each season.
Currently, the 32 group-stage teams get 900 million
euros ($984 million).
The Europa League almost doubles its prize fund
to 380 million euros ($415 million) per season.
UEFA will give a detailed breakdown at a European
Club Association meeting next week in Stockholm,
FIFA extending Fox s World Cup
broadcast rights to 2026 was "very
strange," according to presidential
candidate Michael van Praag.
In a surprise move seen as heading
off possible legal action for changing
the 2022 tournament dates in Qatar,
FIFA awarded Fox the contract last
month without inviting other American
broadcasters to bid.
"That is not something I would do,"
Van Praag, a businessman and president
of the Netherlands football federation,
said yesterday. "In 2015, that is not the
way we work anymore."
Van Praag criticised "all the secrecy"
surrounding FIFA and pledged greater
transparency in decision-making if he
is elected president.
He is among three opponents of
longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter
in the May 29 poll of the governing
body s 209 member federations.
The Fox deal extended its 2018 and
2022 rights, which cost $425 million
more than three years ago when FIFA
planned a traditional June-July tour-
nament in Qatar.
Switching to play in November-
December provokes a clash with the
NFL and college football seasons.
Now, Fox holds the rights for an
undisclosed sum in 2026 when the
United States is an expected bidder to
FIFA "had done what we had to do
in order to protect FIFA and to protect
the organsation of the World Cup," sec-
retary general Jerome Valcke acknowl-
edged last month.
The 67-year-old former Ajax pres-
ident has promised to serve a single
presidential term to "normalize" FIFA
as an institution then step aside.
"My business experience tells me
this could be done in four years," Van
The UEFA executive committee
member met with media ahead of the
European football body s annual meet-
ing Tuesday. Blatter has refused UEFA s
invitation to make a campaign speech
alongside his rivals, which also include
FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-
Hussein of Jordan and former Portugal
great Luis Figo. (AP)
UEFA sets 2018 W Cup qualifying
format ...eyes 14th entry
Van Praag questions
'strange' Fox TV deal
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