Barcelona vice-president Carles Vilarrubi believes a potential change to Lionel Messi's sentence is to set a precedent to prevent Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo from being hit with a similar punishment.
Messi's initial 21-month prison term for tax fraud from July 2016 is set to be downgraded to a fine, although the Barcelona star wasn't set to serve any time behind bars. Vilarrubi told RAC1's Jordi Baste (h/t Sport) he feels that is with recent allegations made against Ronaldo in mind.
"I find it difficult to imagine that this would have happened had there not been a similar problem with another player," he said. "…All of the developments that are taking place right now and that will take place in the coming days are going in a very clear direction: so that [Ronaldo] does not sit in the dock."
The Barcelona vice-president went on to state "they don't want there to be a photo of Ronaldo in the dock" and that, while Messi was treated like "a mafia boss fronting a family or organised crime," in Ronaldo's case the authorities have "made statements calling for [his] presumption of innocence."
According to the BBC, reports in the Spanish press have noted Messi may potentially see his prison term scrapped in place of a fine of €255,000 (£224,000), which would cover the potential cost of his jail sentence.
Earlier this month, Spanish prosecutors accused Ronaldo of evading tax to the value of €14.7 million (£13 million) between 2011 and 2014. The Portugal international has denied that is the case.