Lionel Messi’s attempt to clear his name failed after the Spanish Supreme Court upheld the Barcelona star’s 21-month prison sentence for conviction of tax fraud. Messi isn’t expected to serve any jail time, however.
Last year, Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, were found guilty of defrauding tax authorities of €4.1 million in taxes. In Spain, sentences that fall under two years in duration can be served on probation, which is expected to be the case for Messi and his father.
The court also upheld the fines levied against both men, which included a €2 million fine for the Barcelona forward. Jorge Horacio Messi’s sentence was reduced from 21 months to 15 months for his cooperation in returning the defrauded money to the courts.
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During the four-day trial last year, both men denied any wrongdoing and said the player was unaware of the tax issues that led to the fraud charges. Their appeal to the higher court failed, though.
“It defies logic to concede that someone who earns a large income does not know that he must pay taxes on it,” the court said in its decision on Wednesday, via the BBC.
Update: Barcelona released a statement expressing support for Messi and his family:
The Club reiterates, once again, its full support for Leo Messi, his father Jorge Messi, and his family. This afternoon, FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu contacted the player’s family to communicate this support. The family was very grateful, not only for today’s gesture, but also for the support the player and his family have received from the Club throughout this process. The Club will continue to stand with Leo Messi, his father, and his family.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report