Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father have both been given a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud, according to Spanish publication El Periodico. However, the pair are not expected to serve any time in jail due to Spanish laws regarding non-violent crimes, where prison sentences under two years do not require any incarceration.
The fifth time Ballon D'or and his father appeared on trial on 2 June after being accused of avoiding to pay over €4.1m (£3.5m, $4.5m) in tax on the Barcelona star's earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009. They already paid the Spanish authorities a voluntary corrective payment of around €5m after being formally charged in 2013 but the state lawyers decided to continue the chase by requesting a time in prison.
Messi denied in court any knowledge of his alleged attempts to avoid tax payments claiming that he signed documents without reading them because he trusted his father and the lawyers responsible for managing his finances.
Meanwhile, his father deny any wrongdoing after adding: "I understand these laws as much as I understand Chinese. I didn't have any knowledge of the laws and simply said yes or no to the proposals presented to me. My intention was to make life easier for my son, to accompany him and to allow him to focus on football. Eventually, we needed legal and accounting help."
But the Barcelona authorities have now decided to hand both the Barcelona star and his father a 21-month prison sentence.