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BARCELONA

Lionel Messi to give evidence in court about tax allegations

The Barça number 10 will give evidence along with his father for allegedly defrauding the Spanish taxman of more than four million euros on 2 June.

Update:
Lionel Messi leaving court in January

Messrs. Jorge and Lionel Messi will be up in court on 2 June to testify about their involvement in an alleged attempt to defraud Spanish revenue collectors of more than four million euros in unpaid taxes.

The trial, which is expected to last four days, will start on 31 May, but the Barcelona and Argentina forward does not need to sit through the full hearing as Spanish prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of less than two years.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi's income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09.

The Messis have been charged with three counts of tax fraud.

Prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of 22-and-a-half months for Messi and his father if they are found guilty, plus fines equivalent to the amount that was allegedly defrauded.

Messi poses with his wife and two sons after winning the Copa del Rey
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Messi poses with his wife and two sons after winning the Copa del Rey Javier LizónEFE

However, any such sentence would likely be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences carrying a sentence of less than two years.

The trial will disrupt Messi's preparations for Argentina's Copa America Centenario campaign in the United States next month.

Fresh from winning a league and Cup double with Barcelona, Messi has travelled to Argentina for a friendly against Honduras on Friday.

He will return to Barcelona to give evidence in the trial before flying to the United States for Argentina's first match of the Copa America against defending champions Chile in California on 6 June. 

Tax issues at Barça 

Messi is not the only member of the Barcelona dressing room to have found himself in hot bother with the taxman. His team-mates Neymar, Adriano and Javier Mascherano have also had to suit up and face the law in recent times.

Accusations of tax evasion levelled at the former Santos man were thrown out of court in February, however, the Argentinian was forced to cough up 816,000 euros to Spanish Inland Revenue back in December.

Earlier this month Adriano was accused of defrauding Spain's tax authorities of 646,086 euros.

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