Football great Lionel Messi, along with his father, has been found guilty of tax evasion and handed a 21-month jail sentence by a Spanish court.
They also face millions of euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.
However, neither man is expected to serve time in jail since Spain allows probation for prison terms less than two years.
CCTV America’s Joel Richards reports from Buenos Aires.
Soccer star Messi sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraudFootball great Lionel Messi, along with his father, has been found guilty of tax evasion and handed a 21-month jail sentence by a Spanish court. They also face millions of euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.However, neither man is expected to serve time in jail since Spain allows probation for prison terms less than two years. CCTV America’s Joel Richards reported this story from Buenos Aires.
2016 will not be a year that Lionel Messi will look back upon fondly. He and his father, Jorge Messi, were found guilty on three counts of tax fraud, with a total unpaid amount of $4.5 million.
Messi was also fined more than $2 million.
Nevertheless, Messi received full support from his club, Barcelona. In a statement, Barcelona announced that Messi “is in no way criminally responsible” since he “has corrected his position with the Spanish tax office.”
However, in Argentina, Messi’s native home, there is not much sympathy for the soccer star.
“He’s a dodger,” an Argentine resident said. “He dodged his taxes and he should have to pay them.”
Throughout the trial in Spain, Lionel Messi stated that he knew nothing about his financial affairs. It was his father and advisers who took care of the accounts, while the player focused on football for Barcelona, and the national team.
Despite winning the Spanish league with Barcelona in May, Messi’s year has been marked by disappointment playing for Argentina – losing a second straight Copa America final to Chile last month. After the match, he announced he would quit the national team.
Many said that this trial might pressure Messi to re-consider playing for Argentina. But Daniel Gabin, sports journalist, believed that these are two separate matters and that Messi will “take his time to resolve both football and financial problems separately.”
Messi’s lawyer said him and his father will appeal the court ruling. Meanwhile, the star forward is due back for pre-season training for Barcelona next week.
Simon Chadwick discusses Messi’s tax fraud verdict
For more on the implications of Messi’s tax fraud verdict, CCTV America’s Mike Walter spoke to Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University.