BARCA STAND BY MESSI
Club pledge support following his conviction for tax fraud
BARCELONA have expressed their support for Argentine striker Lionel Messi and his father after the Spanish Supreme Court upheld their prison sentences over tax fraud charges, although neither are expected to go to jail.
Five-time World Player of the Year winner Messi, who has been at Barcelona since the age of 13, was handed a 21-month prison sentence and fined €2 million (RM9.4 million) for three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009.
“The club reiterates, once again, its full support for Leo Messi, his father Jorge Messi, and his family,” a statement on the club’s official website read. (www.fcbarcelona.com)
“FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu contacted the player’s family to communicate this support.
“The family was very grateful, not only for today’s gesture, but also for the support the player and his family have received from the club throughout this process. The club will continue to stand with Leo Messi, his father, and his family.”
A court statement said Messi “unequivocally understood his obligation to pay tax on income obtained from exploiting his image rights...therefore it is not logical that he should ignore his duty to pay tax on them.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling brings an end to a case which began in 2013.
Messi, 29, and his father defrauded the Spanish tax office of €4.1 million between 2007 and 2009 by using a web of shell companies based in Belize, Switzerland and Uruguay to evade taxes on income from the player’s image rights.
Messi, who has won eight La Liga titles, four King’s Cups and four Champions League crowns with Barcelona, finished top scorer in Spain this season with 37 league goals.
He is set to play in the King’s Cup final in Madrid tomorrow, the last game of the domestic season.
Messi is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer and their highest paid player. He is expected to sign a new contract with the Catalan club later this summer, with his current deal expiring in June 2018. Reuters
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is not expected to go to jail depite being handed a 21-month prison sentence.