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Messi to appeal prison sentence

Teamtalk Teamtalk 7/07/2016

Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, will appeal against the 21-month prison sentences they received after being found guilty on three counts of tax fraud, the Barcelona talisman's lawyers confirmed.

Messi and his father were found to be guilty of defrauding the Spanish government of €4.1 million between 2007 and 2009 by using known to be tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay to hide the money made from image rights. As a result, Messi was fined €2 million, while his father was hit with a €1.5 million fine. 

Despite the 29-year-old and his father each being sentenced to 21 months in prison, neither of them are likely to find themselves behind bars as under the Spanish legal system, prison sentences that are less than two years can be served under probation. 

"The sentence is not correct and we are confident the appeal will show the defence was right," Messi's lawyers said in a statement.

The appeal will have to be made at the Spanish supreme court, but Messi's lawyers are confident that "there is a good chance that the appeal will succeed". 

Meanwhile, Barcelona have made it clear that they will support Messi throughout this difficult period.  

"FC Barcelona expresses its full support to Leo Messi and his father in relation to the conviction for tax fraud," the club said. "The club... considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish tax office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case."

Barcelona's Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi sits in court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona, Spain. © Reuters Barcelona's Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi sits in court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona, Spain.

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