Lionel Messi Loses Appeal Against 21-Month Prison Sentence for Tax Fraud

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 21:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou Stadium on May 21, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
fotopress/Getty Images

Lionel Messi lost his appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court against a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud on Wednesday.

According to MailOnline's Pete South, the Barcelona superstar's father, Jorge, had his sentence reduced from 21 months to 15 months, although neither is likely to serve jail time due to Spanish laws on sentences under two years for non-violent crimes.

South notes it is common in Spanish law for defendants without previous convictions to avoid jail time for such crimes.

Barcelona released a statement on Messi following the decision:

"The Club reiterates, once again, its full support for Leo Messi, his father Jorge Messi, and his family. This afternoon, FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu contacted the player’s family to communicate this support. The family was very grateful, not only for today's gesture, but also for the support the player and his family have received from the Club throughout this process. The Club will continue to stand with Leo Messi, his father, and his family.”

Per Ed Aarons in the Guardian, Messi, 29, and his father were initially handed their sentences by a Barcelona court last July after being found guilty of evading €4.1 million (£3.5 million) in tax on the forward's image rights between 2007 and 2009.

Messi was also fined €2 million (£1.75 million) and his father €1.5 million (£1.3 million), per South.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner said during court proceedings, per South: "I was dedicated to playing soccer. I trusted my father and the lawyers that we had chosen to deal with our affairs. At no time did I think that they could deceive me."