Barcelona speaks: Spanish club confirms they paid Neymar’s parents $56 million

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Thanks to authorization from Neymar’s father lifting a confidentiality clause, Barcelona took the liberty of releasing some shocking figures on the Brazilian’s transfer fee, a major point of contention recently.

The La Liga giants confirmed today they paid a total of €56.7 million ($77.5 million), of which €40.9 million ($56 million) went directly to the player’s parents.

Santos, Neymar’s former club, received just $23.2 million (29.9%) of the total transfer fee.

This scandal comes to an apex on the heels of former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell’s resignation under accusations that he misappropriated funds and paid more than the reported €56.7 million.

New President Josep Maria Bartomeu (pictured with a paper copy of Neymar’s contract breakdown) said at a press conference to unveil the figures, “we have not lied. Football games are won on the pitch, not behind closed doors in offices.”

The new club President also claimed that many “top teams” had submitted higher offers than that of the Catalan club, some claimed to be over €100 million, but Neymar chose to come to Barcelona.

In the press conference, the club confirmed Neymar’s salary figure, coming to €57.6 million ($78.8 million).  This number is split up into a €10 million signing bonus, €44 million over the five years of his contract, and €2.5 million in agent fees.

Bartomeu also referenced the controversial 1953 transfer of Alfredo Di Stefano to Barcelona, saying “We lost Di Stefano in an office, but we have not lost Neymar.” The reference alludes to Di Stefano’s switch from Colombian club Millonerios to Catalonia, which Spanish Football Federation decided to strike down, allowing him to move instead to Real Madrid.

In the release, Barcelona conveniently shoved this statement at the bottom:

“FC Barcelona have also struck a number of agreements with organizations connected to the player, such as the Fundació Neymar Jr., a commercial agent to link Neymar’s image with the Club’s in Brazil, an agreement with Santos concerning academy players and with N&N [Neymar da Silva and Nadine, the player’s parents], who will scout young talent at the Brazilian club.”

Many have believed that Barcelona used precisely these “agreements” to provide discrete ways of paying Neymar, Santos, and his family more than the reported official transfer amount.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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