FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have both been given a 21-month suspended prison sentence for thee counts of tax evasion today. Spanish law states that sentences under two years can be suspended.This is also Messi’s first offence further suggesting he won’t spend time behind bars.
Messi and his father were both notified of their appearances at court during the winter, with the case getting underway at the end of May and start of June. Messi and his father were accused of defrauding Spain’s tax office of 4.1 million euros in unpaid taxes for the period between 2007-09.
The case was delayed recently to allow Messi to represent Argentina in the Copa America Centenario. With that competition now finished it has been confirmed by Spanish media that both Messi and his father have been given a suspended sentence of 21 months by the authorities for tax evasion.
Messi told the judge at the High Court on June 2 that he “never looked at the contracts, nor what they said” and that “my father is in charge”. He also said: “I don’t know anything about taxes. I know how to play football & how to win”
Despite this ruling – regardless of Messi’s appeal – the fact that it’s a 21-month sentence could mean that neither of them would have to fulfil the time in prison and the player would, therefore, resume his commitments with Barça.
The court ordered Messi to pay a fine of around €2 million and his father to pay €1.5 million for the crimes.
FC Barcelona have released the following statement regarding the case:
“FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo 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 Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests. ”