Lionel Messi – the undisputed best footballer in the world – has been officially charged with tax evasion by the Spanish authorities and he faces up to six years in jail if convicted.
The Barcelona striker and his father Jorge Horacio Messi are accused of defrauding the Spanish government of around $5.3 million between 2007 and 2009.
He is expected to appear in court on September 17 – which is bad news for the striker, ‘cos this means that he might miss the Champions league opening game which has been scheduled to be played on that day or the next.
It gets worse … Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo reported that the court will seek several sanctions against Messi for the meantime, which include seizing his international passport so that his movement could be restricted. This means Lionel may not be able to participate in international tournaments including the planned Barcelona pre-season tour across Europe and Asia.
And the worst part is that if he gets convicted of the crime, he could face up to six years in jail, or pay a fine that is six times the amount he allegedly defrauded.
When the news of the allegations broke, Messi denied any wrongdoing. ‘We have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advice of our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation,’ he said.
And as for the Barcelona FC management, they are solidly behind their ace attacker. ‘We are with him and his family because we don’t have any doubt about his innocence,’ Barca president Sandro Rosell said.
[Image via Getty]