Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father have been given a 21-month prison sentence after a court in Barcelona has found them guilty on three counts of tax fraud, which amounted to €4.1 million. As well as the prison sentence the court also ordered that the Argentine player pay a fine of around €2m and his father pay €1.5m.
Because the court’s sentence was less than two years and Messi does not have a criminal record neither he nor his father are expected to serve jail time, in accordance with Spanish law.
Barcelona were quick to issue a statement os support for Messi in which they make clear that view him to be free of criminal liability.
“FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today,” read a 100-word statement released by Barcelona on Wednesday afternoon.
“The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.
“FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests.”
In February, Messi’s teammate Javier Mascherano was given a one-year prison sentence for not properly paying his taxes. The sentence was deferred for two years after his legal team rejected the option to pay a new €280,000 ($312,000) fine, which it considered excessive.