sandro rosell january 2014

Sandro Rosell, the president of soccer club FC Barcelona of the Spanish La Liga, has resigned from his post due to a player-signing controversy.

Rosell made the announcement yesterday as he is facing a court case over accusations of misappropriating funds when the club signed Brazilian international striker Neymar last summer. A Madrid judge confirmed that a lawsuit has been launched and Rosell will have to defend it.

The accusation claims that the real cost of purchasing Neymar from his former club Santos in Brazil wasn’t properly revealed.

Rosell said he doesn’t want any unfair accusations to ruin the positive image of the club and he feels it’s time for him to step down instead of dragging the team’s name through the mud. At the same time he insisted that the transfer of Neymar was all done above board and there’s nothing illegal about it.

Barcelona paid a reported 57 million euros in June for Neymar, which at that time was worth about U.S. $74 million. However, the lawsuit contends that the real price of the player was 95 million euros, or $129 million.

The lawsuit was launched by Jordi Cases, who is a shareholder of the publicly-owned soccer club. Cases alleges that phony contracts were used and the real cost of the player wasn’t revealed. If the accusations are proven to be right the 49-year-old Rosell faces up to six years in prison.

Rosell, who is a former executive of Nike, said that the club agreed to confidentiality agreements with Santos and therefore didn’t reveal the exact amount of money paid for Neymar.

The player’s rights were legally held by the Santos soccer club and three other companies named TEISA, N&N, and DIS. The lawsuit alleges that Rosell misappropriated funds, but doesn’t accuse him of making any money from the transfer.

FC Barcelona’s board of directors held an emergency meeting after the lawsuit was announced and two hours later Rosell said he was leaving. The reigning Spanish league champion team is owned by over 160,000 members of the public.

These owners then elect an executive board as well as a club president. Rosell was voted in back in 2010 and his term was scheduled to expire in 2016. Vice president Josep Bartomeu will now take over as president until the term expires.

The club has been successful on the pitch under Rosell as it won the Spanish league twice as well as the European Champions League in 2011 and the Copa del Rey Spanish cup in 2012. However, off the pitch things haven’t always been rosy for Rosell as he claimed he and his family have suffered verbal attacks and threats.

He feels putting his family at risk isn’t worth it and that helped him come to his decision to resign. Rosell was also accused in Brazil last March of benefiting illegally from an exhibition soccer game that was organized in 2008 by his marketing company.


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