Barcelona have defended payments made to a charity run by Lionel Messi and insist they did not act as part of the player’s salary.
The Catalan giants made the payments to Lionel Messi’s foundation between 2010 and 2013 with German media outlet Der Spiegel alleging they had seen club documents which may have acted as a salary.
The report claimed that a 2016 audit saw the club pay the foundation and Messi’s father Jorge millions, while the player’s advisers gave the authorities €12m in unpaid taxes despite insisting they were not part of his salary.
“All of the money the club wired to Lionel Messi's foundation was for charitable purposes,” ESPN quote a Barcelona representative as saying.
“The interpretations that (Der Spiegel), other media or other people can make about these donations does not change this position at all. There will be no further comment on the issue.”
ESPN clarify the €12m was given by the club to Messi as a loan which would not need to be repaid, while the audit was still ongoing and the Argentine was set to become the first player to net in excess of €100m in an annual wage.