Messi jailed and fined over tax fraud … but he’s likely to sidestep prison

Barcelona football star Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined €2 million over a tax fraud case in Spain. However, the striker - generally considered the best in the world currently - is unlikely to face any time in jail as a term of under two years in duration, for a non-violent offence, usually results in a period of probation under Spanish law. The Argentina player and his father, who handles his financial affairs, guilty of three offences involving €4.1 million by the court in Barcelona. His father, Jorge, was also handed a 21-month sentence and a fine of €1.5million.

As my dad explained earlier I just dedicated myself to playing football, I put my trust in my father, in the lawyers who had decided to manage this thing.

Lionel Messi, earlier in the hearing

The pair were accused of using tax havens in Uruguay and Belize to hide millions of euros in image rights earnings from Spanish tax authorities. The player told his trial he knew nothing of how his money was managed and admitted signing documents without reading them, saying he left his affairs to his father, who in turn blamed his tax consultants. Messi, 29, made a voluntary payment of €4.5 million to cover unpaid tax and interest in August 2013. Messi - who has been voted World Player of the Year five times - confirmed his international retirement in the run-up to the verdict after Argentina crashed to a defeat against Chile in the final of the Copa America.