The media is having a field day, all thanks to one man- LIONEL MESSI.
Just when reports surrounding his retirement were settling down, Messi has now found himself embroiled in another controversy of sorts.
It looks as if his good days have taken a holiday; first his retirement plans and now tax fraud. Nothing is going well for this football superstar.
The Barcelona forward was summoned on Tuesday to appear in the court regarding tax fraud.
Messi and his father were both found guilty of evading taxes worth €10 million between the years 2007-2009.
This has got nothing to do with his income from the club but includes all other deals he signed during this time period. All his income was channelled through offshore accounts illegally to evade taxes in Spain.
Lionel Messi and father Jorge were sentenced to 21 months of jail time by the court on Wednesday. Messi was ordered to pay a fine of around 2 million euros for his crime.
Spanish Law to the rescue!
The likelihood of Messi going to jail is incredibly small. Although both father and son were sentenced time behind bars, it is unlikely that they will actually be jailed.
Spanish Law states that sentence below two years can be served on probation and jail-time is not needed.
This is not the first time a Barcelona player has been charged with tax evasion. Another Argentine star, Javier Mascherano, received a suspended sentence and a substantial fine for almost similar crime.
What is even more unnerving is that Mascherano was found guilty a few weeks before Messi. Guess Messi didn’t want to leave his teammate alone.
What does Messi say?
Looks like Messi has become the scapegoat in this entire debacle. In his statement, Messi claims that he was clueless about any tax evasion. All his money is handled by his father and all he does is sign them.
So is this a case of father duping son or both father and son have been duped by someone else? That is yet to known.
This fraud case has given birth to another issue that is slowly gaining momentum. Barcelona fans feel as if their club is being persecuted which has given this case a political angle.
Barcelona is the capital of the state Catalonia that is constantly demanding independence to set up a separate country.
They have their own independence song that is sung in almost every major match, especially when they play teams from Madrid.
Apart from two tax evasion cases, Barcelona got a transfer ban from FIFA, they’ve got fined by UEFA and they were been banned from hanging their flags in the cup final recently.
Twitter is buzzing with fans coming out in support of Leo. Many of them say that tax fraud isn’t really an offence one should send anyone to prison for, especially someone who scores goals at will. That’s some fandom Leo has!
Let’s not forget that the sentence can be appealed through the Spanish Supreme Court but adding fuel to the fire is something everybody loves and it is Messi who finds himself stuck in crossfire again.