7 July 2016Trademarks

Lionel Messi handed prison term over image rights case

Footballer Lionel Messi has been handed a prison term of nearly two years after being found guilty in a dispute centring on tax fraud relating to his image rights.

However, he will not actually serve any time behind bars.

The 29-year-old and his father Jorge were both handed 21-month sentences by a court in Barcelona over their failure to pay €4.1 million ($4.5 million) in taxes on deals related to Messi’s image rights.

The sale of Messi’s rights had been hidden using tax havens in Uruguay and Belize.

As well as the prison terms, Messi was fined about €2 million ($2.2 million) and his father €1.5 million.

They also made a voluntary €5 million “corrective payment” that was equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest.

Despite the sentence, neither man is expected to serve time in prison. In Spain, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation.

Both men plan to appeal against the ruling.

Messi, who plays for Spanish club Barcelona and retired from international duty with Argentina at the end of last month, is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time.

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