By 90Min
February 27, 2019

Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has been realeased from prison pending trial after spending two years behind bars for alleged money laundering. 

Rosell, a former Nike executive, was arrested and charged in 2017 for his part in a money laundering scandal revolving around the sale of television rights for Brazil matches which took place before he joined Barça in 2010. A sponsorship deal signed between Nike and Brazil is also under investigation. 

And, as reported by ESPN, following a three-day hearing, Spain's national court has decided to release both Rosell and his business partner Joan Besoli, pending the conclusion of the case. 

JOSEP LAGO/GettyImages

The decision was made after the pair were no longer deemed a flight risk, though as part of the arrangement, the ex-Barça chief has had his passport confiscated and must remain at a fixed address in the country. 

He is also obligated to appear in court, with the trial expected to be completed by 28 March. Rosell has protested his innocence from the beginning, and during the most recent hearing, he negotiated a bailout fee, having been repeatedly denied one since his arrest.

He was quoted as saying: "I won't respond to the [prosecution] because their indictment is full of falsities. There was no commission -- neither legal nor illegal -- there was just an agreed-upon payment made to company legally.

"I am prepared to put up all of my estate -- valued at €36m -- for bail. I will never miss a visit. I am innocent. I will defend my prestige and my honour. I make all my assets available as a guarantee of that."

The laundered money in question is understood to be valued at €15m and was allegedly held in Andorra. The case is one part of 'Operation Rimet' - the investigation into several high ranking FIFA officials involving the FBI which begain in 2015. 

Rosell was forced to resign from La Blaugrana in 2014 amid questions over the use of the funds involved in the €57m capture of Neymar from Santos in 2013, with his number two Josep Maria Bartomeu assuming the role, where he still resides. 

In a tweet posted following this latest revelation, Bartomeu declared: "A completely unjust situation of 21 months in custody has ended for Sandro Rosell and Joan Besoli. Free and surrounded by friends and family, they will be better able to defend their innocence."

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