Barcelona has released a statement backing superstar forward Lionel Messi in the wake of the star’s 21-month sentencing for tax fraud.
The club pledged its moral and legal support to the star after the 29-year-old and his father guilty of three counts of tax evasion concerning the star’s image rights between 2007 and 2009.
The pair has also been handed a fine totalling €2-million.
Neither Messi nor his father is likely to serve their prison sentence for the offence given that the sentence was less than two years and was non-violent in nature. Neither, furthermore, has a criminal record.
The pair has denied any wrongdoing in the case and may yet appeal the decision, despite Messi making a corrective payment in the region of €5-million back in August 2013 to settle the deficit owed.
‘FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today,’ a club statement read.
‘The club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.
‘FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests,’ the statement concluded.