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Barcelona’s Lionel Messi sentenced to 21 months in prison

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi sentenced to 21 months in prison

The star and his father were found guilty of tax fraud totaling €4m ($4.42m)

Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

On Wednesday, the Court of Catalonia found that the two had evaded tax on the football star’s image rights and determined they owed more than €4m ($4.42m) in back payments.

However, they are not expected to spend time in jail because the sentence is less than two years.

Prosecutors alleged the two used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal the earnings. Messi claimed to have no knowledge of his finances.

The disputed payments date between 2007 and 2009, when Messi helped transform Barcelona into one of the world’s best teams.

He was fined €1.7m ($1.88m) for three counts of tax fraud while his father has been given a €1.3m ($1.43m) fine.

Both can appeal their sentences.

Messi is expected to attend the first day of Barcelona’s pre-season training last week despite the verdict.

He recently declared his retirement from international football after missing a penalty for Argentina against Chile in the Copa America final.

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