Barca continue to stand by Messi after tax appeal rejected

Madrid [Spain]: Barcelona have reiterated their support to Lionel Messi, after the Supreme Court of Spain rejected the star striker’s appeal against a suspended 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud offence.

The 29-year-old and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were handed the jail term last July after they were charged with three counts of tax fraud, which amounted to 4.1 million euros.

Besides the prison sentence, the court had also ordered the Barcelona talisman and his father to pay a fine of around 2 million euros and 1.5 million euros respectively.

While Messi’s 21-month prison for tax evasion has now been upheld, his father’s sentence was slashed to 15 months, taking into account that his football star son had paid back the defrauded money to tax authorities.

And Barcelona said that they would continue to stick with Messi and his family.

“Barcelona wish to express their support for Lionel Messi and his father after the ruling from the Supreme Court,” the Marca quoted club spokesperson Josep Vives as saying.

“President [Josep Maria] Bartomeu has been in contact with Jorge Messi to express this support and he has expressed his appreciation of the club’s gesture. Barcelona will always continue to support the player,” he added.

Messi and his father were found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million Euros of fomer’s income, earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

The income related to Messi’s image rights that was hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.(ANI)