Lionel Messi given 21-month sentence for tax fraud

Footballer guilty of three counts of tax fraud, but is unlikely to go to jail as sentence can be served under probation.

    Lionel Messi given 21-month sentence for tax fraud
    Messi and his father appeared in court last month to testify against charges of tax evasion [Alberto Estevez/Reuters]

    Barcelona football star Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison after a Spanish court found him guilty of three counts of tax fraud.

    A court statement on Wednesday said the sentence could be appealed through the Spanish supreme court.

    Judges also sentenced the Argentine forward's father, Jorge, to 21 months in prison for the same three crimes. 

    Under Spanish law a prison sentence of under two years can be served on probation, meaning Messi, 28, and his father are unlikely to go to jail.

    The court also ordered Messi to pay a fine of around 2 million euro ($2.2m) and his father to pay 1.5 million euro ($1.6m) for the crimes. 

    Messi appeared in court in Barcelona in early June alongside his father to testify against charges of tax evasion.

    "I was playing football. I had no idea about anything," Messi told the court at the time. "I trusted my dad and my lawyers."

    Messi, the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, has won four Champions League and eight Spanish La Liga titles with Barcelona.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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