The Barcelona superstar has been given a suspended term by a Spanish court, meaning he is expected to avoid spending time behind bars
Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been handed a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud but is unlikely to serve time in prison.
Any sentence under two years can be suspended under Spanish law, meaning Messi is expected to avoid spending a day behind bars, according to widespread reports.
Messi, one of the world’s highest-paid footballers, was tried alongside his father, Jorge, for deceiving Spain’s tax authority of 4.1m euros (£3.19m) between 2007 and 2009.
The forward, who recently announced his retirement from the Argentina national team, has also been fined six weeks’ wages worth £1.7 million.
The 29-year-old was accused of creating a number of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid taxation on his lucrative image rights.
Messi claimed he never suspected any wrongdoing about his financial affairs, but a court has found both he and his father guilty in the crime.
Jorge Horacio Messi has also been given the same sentence and both can appeal through the Supreme Court.