The Spanish Supreme Court have upheld the decision of a Barcelona court which sentenced Lionel Messi and his father to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.
The Argentina international and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, stood accused of defrauding €4.1m worth of taxes between 2007 and 2009 in the aftermath of failing to pay €10.1m of image rights.
A Barcelona court found him guilty of the offences in 2016 and following an appeal, the Supreme Court have upheld the original decision, although the father's sentence was reduced to 15 months following the player returning the amount of money defrauded.
Under Spanish law, unless there are prior offenses, prison sentences of less than two years are often suspended at the discretion of the court, as is expected to be the case here.
“I was dedicated to playing soccer,” Messi had initially told the Barcelona court.
“I trusted my father and the lawyers that we had chosen to deal with our affairs. At no time did I think that they could deceive me.”