Footballer facing jail
Barcelona rallies behind Messi in tax fraud allegation
Spanish football club Barcelona has rallied behind its star forward Lionel Messi after the Argentinian and his father Jorge were ordered to face charges of defrauding the country’s tax authorities of more than €4 million (£3m).
Messi senior faces an 18 month jail sentence and fines of more than €2m if found guilty of the offence between 2007 and 2009.
The public prosecutor believes Lionel Messi should not have to answer the charges as his father oversaw his finances, but court judgements have ruled he must still appear as a defendant and could face up to 22 months in jail.
In a statement, FC Barcleona said: “After the announcement that the state attorney intends to accuse Lionel Messi of three cases of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009, demanding a 22-month jail sentence, FC Barcelona declares the following:
1. The club expresses its surprise at the difference in criteria between the public prosecutors, which on September 25 decided not to accuse Lionel Messi of tax fraud, and the verdict expressed today by the state attorney, which states the complete opposite.
2. FC Barcelona has expressed its affection and solidarity to Leo Messi and his family in such a peculiar situation. The club shall continue to offer him and his family its full support and assistance in the legal, fiscal and administrative aspects of these proceedings.
3. FC Barcelona decries the accumulation of totally inadmissible and external decisions that have been going on for some time, and that have nothing to with strictly sporting affairs. They are damaging to the good operations of the club, its stability and also that of the athletes that form part of it. The club shall be working with more determination than ever to defend its legitimate rights and is ready for any new challenges that might arise.”