Date: 6th July 2016 at 6:27am
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Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

After three years of dispute over whether the Barcelona forward evaded tax, a Spanish court have adjudged Lionel and his father, Jorge, to be guilty of three counts of tax fraud.

However, under Spanish law, if a sentence is a first time, non-violent crime and under 24 months, the term can be served as probation, thus meaning neither man will be sent to jail.

The Barcelona forward Messi, who retired from international football late last month following Argentina’s defeat to Chile in the final of 2016 Copa America, has been found guilty of using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay over his image rights.

Jorge Messi was sentenced the same jail term for defrauding Spain of €4.1m (£3.5m) during 2007 and 2009.

In addition to both men’s jail terms, Lionel was fined €2m, and his father €1.5m. They also paid a voluntary sum of €5m to correct their wrongdoings. The sum equates to the alleged unpaid tax and interest in August 2013.

Lionel and Jorge Messi can still appeal to the Spanish supreme court over their sentence.

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