Lionel Messi Tax Fraud Trial Date Set for After 2016 Champions League Final

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2016

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain. Spanish court officials say Lionel Messi's tax fraud trial has been set for May 31-June 3, 2016. Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud and could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty. They are accused of defrauding Spain's tax office of 4.1 million euros ($4.4 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)
Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

The trial into alleged tax fraud on the part of Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, will begin on May 31.

In a statement from the Catalan Superior Court of Justice (h/t AFP via AS) the start date was confirmed, with the case set to be finished by June 3.

The 2015-16 Champions League final will be played on May 28 at the San Siro in Milan, Italy should Barcelona make it that far. However, the trial could have a detrimental effect on Messi’s preparations for the Copa America with his national side, which begins in the United States on June 3.

As reported in the piece from AS, the pair have been accused of not declaring taxes in respect of the Barcelona man’s image rights, which amount to a reported €4.16 million (£3.2 million).

It’s also noted the state prosecutors are requesting that Messi and his father serve a jail term of 22-and-a-half months.

The footballer was initially expected to avoid appearing in court after claiming his father was responsible for his tax activities, per FourFourTwo. However, as noted in the aforementioned piece, the state attorney determined that Messi should also be tried alongside his father.

FC Barcelona and Argentina's forward  Lionel Messi waves holding his trophy after receiving the 2015 FIFA Ballon dOr award for player of the year during the 2015 FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 11, 2016. AFP PHOTO

Messi was recently crowned as the winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for a record fifth time after a stellar year on the field for Barcelona.

The No. 10 was central to the Blaugrana securing an historic treble triumph in the 2014-15 season; he also scored in the finals of the European Super Cup and Club World Cup during this year. Messi’s Barcelona currently trail La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid by two points with a game in hand and are set to play Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League.