Another fine Messi...


Football fans will be aware of Lionel Messi's retirement from international football, following Argentina's defeat to Chile in the final of the Copa America. 

He's enjoyed a glittering club career at Barcelona, yet this was his fourth consecutive loss in the final of an international tournament and included a glaring miss from the penalty spot in the deciding shootout.

What was already a bad week for the football superstar has become decidedly worse, as he's today received a 21 month jail term for defrauding the Spanish government of €4.1m Euros between 2007 and 2009.

Readers may recall that a court in his beloved Barcelona ruled, in June 2015, that he should not be granted immunity for ignorance with regard to his finances, which were being managed in part by his father.

His lawyers had argued, optimistically, that as the player had "never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing" the contracts, he ought not to be held responsible. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this excuse didn't wash. 

Both Defendants also face millions of Euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.

The good news is that under Spanish law, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation, so the prospect of his sentence being applied is remote. I suspect that the chance of seeing Messi paying his dues to society by collecting litter from or painting goalposts at his nearest municipal pitch, is equally fanciful.  

This was very much an own goal and the moral of the story is that ignorance is rarely if ever a defence under the law, regardless of jurisdiction.  

All professional sportsmen should recognise the benefits of and urgent need to secure professional advice in respect of their off field business dealings, investments and tax affairs.

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Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.His father, Jorge Messi, was also given a jail term for defrauding Spain of €4.1m (£3.5m; $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009.They also face millions of euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.However, neither man is expected to serve time in jail.