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Volume 6 No. 212


The "big question" regarding Barcelona's signing of Neymar -- which was recently revealed to cost the club a transfer fee of €86.2M -- is whether Barcelona or Neymar "has paid the Spanish tax authorities for the €50M that went to Neymar's father's company, N&N," according to Inda & Urreiztieta of EL MUNDO. It is "expected that the tax authorities will consider the money paid to N&N as 'disguised remuneration,' and if this happens, there would be a tax bill" of €63M ($86M). The Spanish state of Catalonia has the "highest marginal personal tax rate in Spain (56%), and equal top with Sweden in Europe" (EL MUNDO, 1/28).

NEYMAR'S FATHER SPEAKS: In Madrid, David Sanchidrían reported Neymar's father, Neymar da Silva Santos, "spoke in defense of his son to allow Neymar to compete in the World Cup free from speculation." Neymar Sr. said, "Neymar was only going to leave Santos to go to Barcelona. My job was to protect and strengthen the agreement. I am explaining this to secure peace for my son. I do not want this to generate confusion. I repeat that I do not owe anything to the tax authorities in Brazil or Spain, absolutely nothing" (AS, 1/28).

REAL-BARCELONA CONFLICT: AS reported Real Madrid has "issued a statement" demanding that Xavi Bosch, a journalist with Catalonia radio station RAC1, provide a "clear and immediate rectification" of reports on Monday. Bosch claimed that Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez "used influential contacts" to ensure that Barcelona member Jordi Cases' lawsuit against Sandro Rosell "would be heard at Spain’s National High Court." Real Madrid's statement said that the allegations were "totally false." Real Madrid also demanded in its statement that Bosch "issue a clear and immediate rectification on the same radio station." Real also said in its statement that "if this rectification is not made," Pérez will sue Bosch (AS, 1/28).

Lotus F1 team Owner Genii Capital "has agreed to sell a stake in the squad to new Russian backer Yota Devices Company," according to Kabanovsky & Noble of AUTOSPORT. The Enstone-based team announced a sponsorship deal with YotaPhone last week. But as well as using its brand to enhance the profile of its mobile phone company, Yota Devices "has bought a minority shareholding in Lotus too." It is not clear "how big the stake is," but sources have suggested that it is around 10%. Although Lotus "would not confirm the buy-in," a spokesperson for Yota Devices revealed that "the tie-up with the team included an investment plan." Spokesperson Kirill Lubnin said, "It is not a sponsorship, we have bought a stake" (AUTOSPORT, 1/28).

NASCAR team co-Owner Gene Haas insisted Monday that "he is serious about fielding an F1 team based in North Carolina, on the same land in Kannapolis that houses the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR team he co-owns with Tony Stewart," according to the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. Haas: "We want to be an American team. We think that has the most sizzle to it." Haas, through Haas Racing Development, paid a $5,000 application fee to F1's governing body during an open application period. He said, "[F1 CEO Bernie] Ecclestone doesn't think I have enough money to do this. He doesn't think we will get the license. So my chances probably aren't that great of a shot." So does he have enough money for an F1 team? Haas said, "I won't know until I try. If you don't try, you'll never fail. The Europeans have their way of doing things, and we as Americans have our way of doing things. I think we could be competitive and successful" (NZ HERALD, 1/28).

Serie A Cagliari Owner Massimo Cellino is "reportedly in talks with Qatar Sport Investments over a proposed takeover" of the club worth €70M-€80M ($95.6M-$109.3M), according to FOOTBALL ITALIA. Cellino, a Miami-based businessman, "has increasingly hinted at his discontent with life running the Isolani." Attention "has grown on what this means for Cagliari's future." Italian newspaper L’Unione Sarda on Tuesday ran "the line that talks are underway between Cellino and Qatar Sport Investments over a proposed takeover." It is reported that negotiations are ongoing for a "buyout of a majority of Cellino's shares" at a price set between €70M and €80M (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 1/28).