Neymar Or Not, France Says Qatar Must Answer on Financing Terror

(Bloomberg) -- Neymar’s record transfer to soccer team Paris Saint-Germain doesn’t mean Qatar, which owns the club, is off the hook from shedding light on possible terrorism financing, France’s government spokesman said.

The move by PSG to recruit Brazilian football player Neymar Da Silva Santos Jr is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports, French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said in an LCI television interview after the soccer team’s announcement. Qatar must still answer on terrorism and any role it may or may not play in financing it, he said.

“It’s essential that Qatar sheds full transparency on subjects like the financing of terrorism,” Castaner said. “We are allowed to ask questions. France is favorable to dialogue.” Qatar denies any role in financing terrorism.

The 25 year-old Neymar, who bids farewell to Spain’s FC Barcelona, struck a deal that is said to reach as much as $600 million, including wages and add-ons, for a five-year contract -- a record. The move comes amid global tensions over Qatar, after a Saudi-led alliance in June cut ties with the Gulf nation and accused it of sponsoring terrorism.

It’s the latest in a series of headline-grabbing deals by Qatar, which has a history of buying trophy assets. The world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas has since June agreed to buy F-15 fighter jets from the U.S., seven warships from Italy and explored the idea of buying a stake in American Airlines before backing out in the end.

France has said consistently it won’t take sides in the conflict opposing Qatar with Saudi Arabia and its allies, and has repeated calls for transparency, dialogue and not isolating any parties.