Madrid, Spain.-Barcelona FC released a statement in support of Lionel Messi.
“FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today.
“The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office,is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.
“FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests. ”
Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been sentenced to 21 months in prison after a court in Barcelona found him guilty of three counts of tax fraud. The sentence can be appealed through the Spanish supreme court, a statement from the court said.
It is unlikely Messi or his father will serve a stretch behind bars, however. Under Spanish law, a prison sentence under two years can be served under probation if you have no prior criminal record. The court ordered Messi to pay a fine of around 2 million euros (Âú1.7million) and his father to pay 1.5 million euros (Âú1.3million).
Messi and his father were both found guilty by a court in Barcelona of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of 4.1 million in the period between 2007 and 2009 by not paying tax on image rights earnings.