Barcelona all-time leading goal scorer Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi will appeal the 21 month jail term handed to both of them in a Spanish court yesterday (July 6, 2016) over tax fraud. In addition to the jail term, the duo are expected to pay fines, with Messi billed to pay two million euros ($2.21 million), while his father was fined of 1.5 million euros.
Prosecutors had asked for Messi to be absolved after the Argentine striker claimed he knew nothing about how his finance were managed and that his dad has handled his finances from his childhood. However, the court said exonerating him will pass the wrong message to ordinary citizens who might feel it was better not to show interest in tax obligation.
Messi lawyer said “there is a good chance that the appeal will succeed”, since the sentence can be appealed in Spain’s Supreme Court.
According to the BBC, Messi and his father made a voluntary €5m “corrective payment”, equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, in August 2013.
However, Messi and his father will most likely avoid jail term since Spanish law permits prison sentence under two years for first offences to be served under probation.
Barcelona have continued to express their support to Messi and his father. Other Barcelona stars who have had similar tax issue include Javier Mascherano, who was handed a one-year suspended sentence for tax fraud by Spanish court six months ago; Dani alves, the Brazilian defender was said to owe 1.3 million euros in overdue taxes and late payment fines by Spanish authorities last week. Alves transferred to Juventus in June.