Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said he believes rival club Real Madrid is behind the alleged tax fraud investigation into Barcelona's signing of Brazil striker Neymar.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said he believes rival club Real Madrid is behind the alleged tax fraud investigation into Barcelona's signing of Neymar, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, Spain prosecutor Jose Perals said he has requested that National Court judge Pablo Ruz probe Bartomeu and the club for allegedly defrauding the Tax Office of €2.8 million ($3.2 million).
Ruz is heading an investigation into whether ex-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell misappropriated funds to hide the transfer cost paid to Neymar's former club, Santos, according to the AP.
"All we have done is bring a player like Neymar (to the club). Barca, its executives, its employees nor its directors have done anything wrong," Bartomeu said. "Neymar's father said that he had a better offer from Madrid, and that did not go down too well."
Bartomeu said he feels his club is the victim of an "attack" and believes the investigation was also motivated by Barcelona's links with Catalonia's regional independence movement.
"I don't have any evidence but there are facts," he said. "Last year we allowed the stadium to be used for the 'Freedom Concert,' and we played a game wearing the Catalan national flag kit. (A) Catalan independence march passed through Camp Nou (Stadium) and so perhaps that was not to everyone's taste. ... I am convinced that there are certain powers of state that are not happy that Neymar came to Barca."
Bartomeu will appear before Ruz in a Madrid court on Feb. 13. Real Madrid did not comment when asked by the AP, however Spanish league president Javier Tebas said he does not believe the club is behind it.
- Molly Geary