Messi is the second Barcelona player to be charged for tax evasion in 2016.
Since a couple of weeks ago we know of Lionel Messi's problems with the Spanish justice due to allegations of tax evasion against him. Lio was accused of three counts of tax fraud. Today, there came a conclusion to that story: the best player in the world has been officially sentenced to 21 months in prison alongside his father by a Barcelona court. Despite having been found guilty, he is unlikely to actually face any jail time.
The charges against him are straightforward enough: the prosecutors maintain that Messi and his father used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes amounting to 4 million euros. Aside from being sentenced to prison, the Barcelona player was fined for 2 million euros. The court also made clear that the sentence can be appealed through the Spanish Supreme Court. That's exactly what Messi and his father plan to do, their lawyers told the press.
Messi and his father argue that they did not know they were doing something illegal, and that they were not told of the implications of engaging in such acts. To this the prosecutors say emphatically that their ignorance of the law does not exclude them of being affected by it. Not understanding how the system works is not acceptable, for even children know that taxes have to be paid.
This story also adds to the one we saw at the beginning of the year, when Messi's teammate Javier Mascherano was given a one-year prison sentence also for tax evasion. According to official reports, Messi earns a total of $81.4 million a year, which makes him the second highest paid athlete in 2016. According to Forbes, the first one is Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James follows Messi.