The Best Soccer Player In The World Might Be Headed To Jail For Tax Fraud

It seems things have taken an even worse turn for F.C. Barcelona star, Lionel Messi. Currently sidelined after tearing the internal collateral ligament of his left knee during Barcelona’s Sept. 26 victory over Las Palmas, the Argentinian wonder kid now has a tougher battle to fight than his recovery; this one is against the Spainish courts.

Per Yahoo Sports:

Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father Jorge are to stand trial on three counts of tax fraud that could carry prison sentences, a Spanish court confirmed on Thursday.

The pair were accused in 2013 of defrauding the taxman out of 4.16 million euros ($4.69 million) in taxes related to Messi’s image rights between 2007 and 2009 through the creation of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay.

Yeah, that is not a petty sum of money we’re talking about, that’s for sure. It’s pretty hard to make almost $5 million dollars disappear from the books. Like, so hard you have to be trying.

While a date has yet to be set for the trial, the tax fraud La Pulga stands accused of is surely no laughing matter in the eyes of the court. Reports indicate that Messi’s counsel were petitioning the judge in the case to try only Messi’s father for the alleged wrongdoing, but it sounds as if the judge is standing firm on the charges.

Prosecutors had asked for the case against the four-time World Player of the Year to be dropped as the alleged fraud was in their estimation carried out by his father, who has managed his son’s affairs since he was a child.

They asked for Jorge Messi to be handed an 18-month prison sentence and a fine of half the defrauded amount.

However, lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities pleaded for the player to also be tried and for both defendants to face a 22-month prison sentence.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” said the judge.

Pretty crazy that it sounds like Messi’s father was trying to take the fall for something both parties were plausibly involved in. It will be interesting to see how the trial plays out – if it gets that far – for the fourth richest athlete in the world. And certainly not good news for F.C. Barcelona fans in the midst of an already topsy-turvy season.

[h/t Yahoo Sports]