Messi handed 21 months jail term for tax fraud
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 Spain of 4.1m (£3.5m; $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009.
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 in yesterday’s ruling by the court in Barcelona.
As well as the jail terms, Messi was fined about 2m and his father 1.5m. They made a voluntary 5m “corrective payment”, equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, in August 2013.
The sentence can be appealed through the Spanish Supreme Court.
During the trial, Lionel Messi insisted he “knew nothing” about the management of his financial affairs, saying his father dealt with them while he was “playing football”.
For his part, Jorge Messi claimed he did not have enough knowledge to orchestrate such a fraud, blaming his tax consultants instead.
Lionel Messi retired from international football late last month. He has won the FIFA World Player of the Year five times and is one of the richest athletes in the world.