Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has been found guilty of tax evasion and has been sentenced to 21 months in prison. However, the star is unlikely to serve any prison time since the sentence is under two years and doesn’t have a prior criminal record.
The Court of Catalonia sentenced Messi along with his father Jorge Messi for evading tax on Lionel’s image rights between 2007 and 2009 which stood at 3.5 million pounds.
Barcelona football club released a statement in support of their star and his father saying,
‘FC Barcelona gives all its support to [Messi] and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today.
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 [Messi] and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests.’
According to Reuters, they will each receive a substantial fine of about 1.5 million euros for three tax crimes. Messi denied knowledge of handling his finances, but the government prosecutor said that they didn’t prove their innocence.
The trial comes at a time after the Argentine star retired from playing for his national side.