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Messi, Ronaldo could face UK travel ban in case of hard Brexit

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal on October 31, anyone convicted of tax fraud will be denied entry under new laws.

La llegada del Brexit podría hacer que muchos futbolistas no pudieran viajar a Reino Unido.
Henry Nicholls Reuters

The UK’s negotiations to avoid a hard Brexit are dominating the European press as Boris Johnson struggles to reach agreement with his EU counterparts over Britain’s imminent departure from the continental bloc but there are probably few observers who have yet equated the Irish backstop and customs and trade checks to Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi.

However, the UK’s exit from the European Union may prevent some of the world’s top players from entering the country after October 31 due to a new law that will come into effect denying anyone with a criminal conviction the requisite paperwork. As it stands, provided the person in question is not deemed a threat to national security, that is not the case but the new regulations will be applied to anyone who has been convicted of tax fraud when visa requests are considered.

That could hamper several team’s plans for the Champions and Europa League. In quotes published by several UK media, Andrew Osborne, a lawyer with the firm Lewis Silkin, explained: “If you are an EU citizen and you have been convicted of an offence or have had a prison sentence imposed [including suspended sentences] you will be denied entry to the United Kingdom.”

Messi, Ronaldo, Costa, Marcelo could all face travel bans

A number of players including Messi and Ronaldo, who have both been convicted of tax fraud in Spain, as well as Marcelo and Diego Costa, could fall foul of the new law. Messi received a 21-month sentence in 2017, which was later successfully exchanged for a fine, while Ronaldo was handed a 23-month term and an 18.8 million euro fine earlier this year.

Theoretically, that would mean neither the Barça nor Juventus star would be able to represent their clubs or countries on British soil in the case of a hard Brexit, while other figures in football will also be subject to the same travel ban if they are found to have defruaded the Spanish tax authorities.