Barcelona president Jose Maria Bartomeu, his predecessor Sandro Rosell and the club are set to stand trial for alleged “crimes against the Treasury and corporate crime” over the signing of Neymar.
Judge Jose de la Mata called for the opening of the trial yesterday and the three parties accused have ten days to respond to Spain’s National High Court.
The trial centres around investigators’ allegations that the club only declared that they had paid ¤57.1 million for the Brazil forward when they actually paid “at least” ¤83.371m.
A statement from the court read: “Judge Jose de la Mata has issued a decree for the opening trial against the president of FC Barcelona, Jose Maria Bartomeu, his predecessor, Sandro Rosell and the club itself for crimes against the Treasury and corporate crime.”
All three parties have denied any wrongdoing on several occasions.
The case cast a shadow over the Catalan club when they should have been basking in the achievement of reaching their fourth Champions League final in ten seasons.
Luis Enrique’s team remain on course for a treble after he led them to a 5-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich despite losing Tuesday’s second leg 3-2 in Germany. They will now face Juventus in the Champions League final on 6 June in Berlin. “It’s mission accomplished,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique. “Our next objective is to be European champions. We’re one win away from winning each of the three competitions we are in. This is our objective. It’s a nice moment but we still have to seal the deal”.
Barcelona had taken a 3-0 advantage from the first leg to the Allianz Arena but trailed 1-0 early on thanks to Mehdi Benatia’s strike before two first-half goals from Neymar gave the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead.
The Catalans succumbed to a second-half fight back from Bayern on the night, with Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller securing a 3-1 win, but Barca’s emphatic first-leg triumph was enough to secure progress.
“We are very happy,” Enrique added. “We deserve to be in the final. The team did well and getting to half-time with a lead was important.
“It was a game that was determined by our rival’s need to take risks and attack, but even though they took the lead, we came back at them and created plenty of chances.
“We lost a lot of possession in the second half and I felt we had slipped into the idea that we were already in the final.
“But we know our players’ abilities and what they can do and I am very happy with their performance. This success is down to all of the people who make up the team and it’s a moment to enjoy”.
Luis Enrique became Barca’s third coach to reach the Champions League final in his first season in charge with Enrique Orizaola and Bayern manager Pep Guardiola having previously achieved that feat.
Barca had not reached the final since 2011 and it will be Neymar’s first since joining Barca from Santos in 2013.
Neymar, who is alongside Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo the leading scorer in the competition with nine goals, said: “I want to congratulate the whole team for the game we played.
“I’m very happy with the goals and to be in the final. It’s great. Now we only have one step left.”
Barca will have little time to celebrate, though, as they must prepare for their next challenge at home.
The Catalan giants lead the Primera Division standings by four points from Real Madrid with two games remaining and take on Spanish defending champions Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Sunday – if a threatened strike over government interference in the league’s television rights can be averted.
Barcelona end their league campaign at home to Deportivo La Coruna and will face Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Cup final on 30 May.