Lionel Messi and his father sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/lionel-messi" data-ylk="slk:Lionel Messi">Lionel Messi</a> (AFP Photo)
Lionel Messi (AFP Photo)


Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud by a Spanish court on Wednesday.

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The news was surprising, but Messi and his dad don’t figure to do any jail time. The sentences are expected to be suspended since both are first-time offenders of non-violent crimes with sentences of less than two years.

[ FC Yahoo: Barcelona absolving Messi of wrongdoing underscores big problem ]

As long as the Messis don’t break any laws during the period of their sentences, they will not see the inside of a jail. The player’s attorney announced they will appeal the decision.

Lionel Messi and his father were found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of the Barcelona star’s income earned from his image rights from 2007 to 2009. During a four-day trial last month, Messi told the court that he “knew nothing” about how his finances were being managed by his dad, but the court ruled that Messi “had decided to remain in ignorance.”

Messi will have to pay an additional 1.7 million euros – and his dad 1.3 million euros – on top of the 5 million euros in unpaid taxes and interest fees they shelled out before the trial.

Barcelona publicly backed its five-time World Player of the Year. In a statement, the club said: “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.”

How’s Messi handling the bad news, especially after failing to end Argentina’s major tournament title drought? Judging from the photos of his vacation in the Bahamas, he’s probably doing OK.

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