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Messi in court in tax fraud case

AP - Sports

GAVA, Spain (AP) -- Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father appeared before a Spanish judge to answer questions in a tax fraud case on Friday.

Messi, wearing a suit with no tie, arrived smiling at Gava's court No. 3, an hour after his father, Jorge Horacio Messi.

The player was cheered by about 30 fans, who were outside the court along with about 100 reporters and photographers.

A complaint lodged by a Spanish state prosecutor in June said Messi and his father tried to conceal earnings from the player's image rights. The complaint alleged the Argentina international owed 4 million euros ($5.3 million) in back taxes from 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Messi's father made a payment of more than 5 million euros ($6.6 million) on Aug. 14 to cover alleged back taxes and interest.

Messi and his father were originally ordered to appear at the court near Messi's home outside of Barcelona on Sept. 17, but the date was postponed.

A representative said Messi or his father would speak to the media later.

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