Barcelona star Neymar faces tax trouble in Brazil
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Barcelona star Neymar faces tax trouble in Brazil

While Barcelona soccer star Neymar sprints down the field at Camp Nou stadium today in the match against German football team Leverkusen, $50 million of the player’s assets will not be moving a muscle.

A Brazilian court recently froze a huge chunk of cash for Neymar’s alleged tax evasion.

Even for one of the world’s highest paid athletes, 188.8 million Brazilian real, or about $50 million, is no small sum. The 23-year-old pulls in $31 million annually from his contract with Barcelona and other endorsements, according to Forbes.

The issuing judge Carlos Muta stated that Neymar alone is responsible for declaring his income to Brazilian tax authorities. The player has allegedly only claimed about $5 million.

Pay up 

Neymar owes about $16 million, according to the investigation.  The court decided to freeze more than three times this amount in his assets for two reasons: as a persuasion tactic to make the soccer prodigy pay up and as a preventative measure to ensure he does not sell off the assets before the case is resolved.

The investigation, which has been under way since June, also includes Neymar’s parents and related businesses. Their company N&N Consultoria Esportiva e Empresarial received multiple payments for millions of dollars from the Barcelona club.

The star’s parents recently told BBC that the allegations are false.

This is not the first time Neymar’s finances have raised red flags. His transfer from Brazilian club Santos was controversial. A Spanish judge accused the Catalonian football club of reporting a smaller transfer fee than was actually paid.

Further details of the case have not yet been revealed. Neymar once again has fans on the edge of their seats, watching eagerly and hoping that the legal proceedings will not affect his ability to play in Barcelona.

When it comes to soccer and money, Neymar is not the only one who hasn’t played by the rules. His teammates, some athletic clubs and even FIFA executives have also had recent scandals involving their finances.

Team tax evasion?

Neymar’s Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano have also faced accusations of tax evasion. Messi will stand trial later this year for an alleged $4.5 million tax fraud involving his sponsorships. Mascherano faces two tax fraud charges despite paying more than $1.5 million to settle his tax bill.

On Friday, Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter over a “disloyal payment” to his main opponent in the 2011 FIFA presidential elections. Weeks later, his opponent Michel Platini removed himself from the race.

As Bloomberg’s Kavitha Davidson wrote about the FIFA scandal, “soccer needs new guards.” Or maybe just honest accountants.

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