Paperwork puts Neymar’s debut on hold
PARIS — It’s been nearly a week since Neymar landed in Paris, and the world’s most expensive player still can’t play for his new club in the French league.
The Brazilian superstar’s world-record $260 million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was completed last week but he has yet to be granted permission to play.
PSG wanted Neymar to start the season last week at Parc des Princes against Amiens but his debut was delayed because his international transfer certificate (ITC) had not been received by the French league on time.
Neymar was unveiled to the PSG fans on Saturday but could only watch from the stands as his new team started its Ligue 1 campaign with a 2-0 win.
He was then expected to play this Sunday at Guingamp, however the French league told Associated Press that it had not received the ITC from the Spanish federation by a midnight deadline on Thursday.
The French league sent an application for the document last Thursday, following the payment of the player’s release clause to Barcelona.
The league, however, said Neymar could still play in Sunday’s match if PSG and the French federation decide against referring the issue to FIFA.
“If the French federation does not start proceedings with FIFA, we could still receive the ITC up until Saturday night,” the league said.
According to French newspaper L’Equipe, PSG is unlikely to ask FIFA to rule on the issue because it could slow down proceedings further.
FIFA told AP it “has not been contacted by the FFF (French Football Federation) in connection with the player Neymar and the ITC procedure”.
France’s soccer governing body added it “does not understand” why its Spanish counterpart “refuses to accept the payment for the buyout clause for Neymar”.
Barcelona said there is nothing strange about the situation and that the wait is due to the banks, which have to make the $260 million available in the club’s account before the transfer is authorized.
There has been speculation that Barcelona slowed down the whole process as a retaliation measure against PSG after the Qatari-owned club managed to lure one of its biggest stars away from Camp Nou.
Asked about his views on the issue after the Amiens game last week, PSG coach Unai Emery said he was not sure “Spain did everything” to ensure Neymar would be cleared to play for his team in time.
FFF president Noel Le Graet said another reason for the delay could be the turmoil within the Spanish federation.
Angel Maria Villar, who ran Spanish soccer since 1988, was suspended last month from the presidency for one year by Spain’s top sports authority for his suspected involvement in corruption.
“I don’t need to tell you that the Spanish federation is having some problems at the moment,” Le Graet told L’Equipe. “The transfer is complete, so this should not last.”
New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker breaks his bat during his team’s MLB game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday. The Mets homered four times for a 10-0 triumph.