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Soccer Star Lionel Messi Sentenced To 21-Month Jail Term For Tax Fraud

Lionel Messi will likely have his jail sentence suspended, under Spanish law. He's seen here leaving a courthouse in Barcelona last month, followed by his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, and his brother Rodrigo Messi.
Lionel Messi will likely have his jail sentence suspended, under Spanish law. He's seen here leaving a courthouse in Barcelona last month, followed by his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, and his brother Rodrigo Messi.

A court in Spain has sentenced Lionel Messi, widely hailed as one of the best soccer players alive, to 21 months in jail for tax fraud. Messi 's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, received the same sentence, over not paying some 4 million euros in taxes.

It seems likely that neither Messi nor his father will serve any time in jail. From our understanding of Spanish law, judges regularly suspend prison sentences for people who are sentenced to less than two years' time for nonviolent crimes — particularly if it's a first offense and the person isn't deemed to pose a threat.

"The court ordered Messi to pay a fine of around 2 million euros ($2.21 million) and his father to pay 1.5 million euros for the crimes," Reuters reports.

The case against Messi and his father was heard in June, with prosecutors saying that the global celebrity known for his exploits on the field for Barcelona and for the national team in his native Argentina had illegally sheltered earnings.

In those proceedings, Lionel Messi said he didn't know about the details of his financial arrangements, saying that he signed contracts because he trusts his father.

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