Spain’s Supreme Court will consider Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi’s appeal against a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud on Thursday.
The appeal takes place three days before the “Clasico” between Barca and Real Madrid which could go a long way to deciding this season’s La Liga title, especially if Real open up a six point lead with a win, maintaining their game in hand.
Argentine Messi, five-times world player of the year, was found guilty by a Barcelona court last July on three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009, resulting in a suspended 21-month prison sentence and fine of 2 million euros.
Messi’s father Jorge was given the same sentence and ordered to pay a fine of 1.5 million euros.
Spanish law is such that any sentence under two years for a non-violent crime rarely requires a defendant without previous convictions to serve jail time.
Messi, 29, and his father defrauded the Spanish tax office of almost 4.2 million euros from 2007-09 by using a web of shell companies to avoid taxes on income from the player’s image rights.