Neymar’s debut in French league could be delayed again

Neymar's transfer was completed last week, but the Brazil international has yet to be granted permission to play. (Francois Mori/AP)

PARIS — 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.

Neymar’s world-record 222 million euros ($262 million) transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was completed last week, but the Brazil international has yet to be granted permission to play.

PSG wanted Neymar to start the season at the Parc des Princes last week 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 watched from the stands as his new team started its league campaign with a 2-0 win.

The former Santos forward was then expected to play on Sunday night at Guingamp at the 18,000-capacity Stade du Roudourou, but PSG fans might have to wait a bit longer to see the star in action.

The French league said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that it had not received the document needed from the Spanish federation. It added the deadline for receiving the document was midnight local time.

The league however said Neymar could still be qualified for Sunday’s game if PSG and the French federation decide against referring the issue to FIFA after the deadline expires.

"If the French federation does not start proceedings with FIFA, we could still receive the ICT 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. The club did not immediately answer a message from The Associated Press seeking comments.

FIFA told the AP that it "has not been contacted by the FFF (French football federation) in connection with the player Neymar and the ITC procedure."

The French league added that 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 222 million euros available in the club’s account before the transfer is authorized.

There has been speculation in France that Barcelona slowed down the whole process as a retaliation measure against PSG after the French league club lured one of its three biggest stars out of the Camp Nou.

Asked about his views on the issue after the Amiens game, PSG coach Unai Emery said last week he was not sure "Spain did everything" to ensure Neymar would be cleared to play for PSG without delay.

FFF president Noel Le Graet said another reason for the delay could be the current turmoil within the Spanish federation. Angel Maria Villar, who ran the Spanish soccer federation since 1988, was suspended from the presidency for one year in July by Spain’s top sports authority for his suspected involvement in a case of misappropriation of private and public funds received by the federation since 2009.

"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."

In any case, the paperwork issues have left Neymar unfazed. He has making the most of his time off to head to Saint-Tropez, where he has been photographed partying with friends. Neymar has since returned to training with his teammates.