Lionel Messi loses appeal against 21-month prison sentence

Posted May 25, 2017

Messi was found guilty by the Barcelona court last July for breaching tax offences of around £3.5 million from 2007 to 2009.

Barcelona, the Spanish club which Messi has been representing since he was a teenager, had issued a statement lending its support to its star player and his father.

However, the Barcelona star's father, Jorge Messi, has seen his sentence reduced from 21 to 15 months for his cooperation in returning some of the defrauded money.

However, the Argentine is unlikely to spend any time behind bars due to being a first-time offender, and his father's sentence was also reduced to 15 months because of the money he handed over to tax authorities since previous year.

The 29-year-old footballer who has won Ballon D'Or for a record five times, is considered one of the best footballers of all-time.

The reduction was based on the fact that Messi had paid back all of the money he owed to the tax authorities.

The case relates to a scheme to avoid paying tax on Messi's image rights. He is expected to sign a new contract with the Catalan club later this summer, with his current deal expiring in June 2018.

In a stunning decision last summer, both men were convicted of three counts of fraud, for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay, and were also given hefty fines.

They both appealed the judgment but the court has chose to dismiss it.

Messi's tax fraud trial had taken place against a backdrop of simmering voter anger over steep cuts to health and social spending, as the government struggles to bring Spain's public deficit down.

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