Soccer Star Lionel Messi Sentenced to 21 Months for Tax Fraud

Lionel Messi

Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Wednesday (July 6), after being found guilty of tax fraud.

According to CNN, a Barcelona court ruled that between 2007 and 2009, the 29-year-old was guilty of defrauding the Spanish tax office of almost 4.2 million euros. The court claims Messi and his father used a web of shell companies to evade taxes on income from the player's image rights... and sentenced both to 21 months.

However, it's unlikely he'll serve any jail time, because he doesn't have a criminal record. But, Messi will have to cough up $2.3 million USD in fines, while his father Jorge will have to pay a $1.7 million fine.

His team, FC Barcelona, said in a statement that it is "giving all its support to Leo Messi and his father."

"The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.

"FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defense of his honesty and his legal interests."

Furthermore, Messi's legal team says he has already paid back the money he owes.