7 Jul 2016

Messi sentenced for tax fraud

6:57 am on 7 July 2016

Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

His father, Jorge Messi, was also given a jail term for defrauding the government of Spain of almost 4.2 million euros between 2007 and 2009.

Lionel Messi

Argentinian football star Lionel Messi (right) has been fined heavily for tax evasion but is unlikely to spend time in prison. Photo: Photosport

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.

Under the Spanish system, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation.

The footballer and his father were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud.

As well as the jail terms, Messi was fined about €2m and his father and his father €1.5m.

They made a voluntary €5m "corrective payment" - equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest - in August 2013.

Lionel Messi's illustrious career:

*Winner of Fifa Ballon d'Or as world's best footballer on five occasions

*Voted Uefa best player in Europe three times

*Uefa Champions League winner with FC Barcelona on four occasions

*Spanish championship winner with FC Barcelona eight times

*Olympic gold medallist with Argentina in 2008

*Argentina's all-time leading scorer with 55 goals