So Sad! Lionel Messi sentenced to jail

Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud by a Spanish court.

His father, Jorge Messi, was also sentenced for defrauding Spain of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009.

Last month, Messi’s father restated that his son didn’t know the details of his contracts.

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They also face millions of euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.

The court case attracted an enormous amount of press and popular attention.

Messi and his father were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud in Wednesday’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.

Under Spanish law any sentence under two years can be suspended meaning Messi is expected to avoid serving time in prison.

The 29-year-old, among the world’s highest-earning athletes, was accused of creating a string of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid taxation.

According to Messi, “I was playing football; I had no idea about anything. I trusted my dad and my lawyers.”

During the trial, Messi said he never suspected any wrongdoing.

His father always asked him to sign contracts or documents relating to his image rights, a lucrative source of income for any athlete of his caliber.

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Witness Eva Blazquez, responsible for handling the four-time Champions League winner’s tax declarations, said: “Leo didn’t see them. The final supervision was done by the client, in this case, Jorge Messi.”

It is yet uncertain whether Messi and his dad will appeal the court ruling.