A 21-month jail term has been handed to Barcelona forward to Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Messi after a Spanish court in Barcelona found both men guilty on three counts of tax fraud.
Messi who becomes the second Barcelona and Argentina player to receive a prison sentence following January’s one year sentencing of team-mate Javier Mascherano alongside his father are accused of defrauding Spain of more than €4m (£3.1m; $5m).
According to Sky Sport, the Barcelona man who appeared in court last month has also been ordered pay a fine of around €2m and his father pay €1.5m.
However, it is unlikely that Messi and his father will be going to prison as, under Spanish law, a prison sentence under two years can be served under probation, in particular if the subject charged has no criminal record.
The statement released by the court on Wednesday also read that the decision can be appealed through the Spanish Supreme Court.
When asked what he knew of the alleged €4.1m (£3.2m) fraud involving image rights and earnings during last month’s hearing, Messi who appeared in court last month repeatedly denied any knowledge.
“No, never. No, I never asked. I signed them because I trust my father and it never entered my head that he would try to cheat me.”
On the matter of his image rights, the 29-year old said: “I only knew we arrived at agreements with sponsors for certain quantities of money and that in return I had to make commercials and be photographed, but I have no idea where the money went.”