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Lionel Messi Prison Sentence Dropped to Save Cristiano Ronaldo, Says Barca VP

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2017

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center right, escapes Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

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."

Messi was hit with a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud last year.
Messi was hit with a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud last year.Alex Caparros/Getty Images

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.