Barcelona’s Argentinian football star Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison in Spain for tax fraud, but he is not expected to spend time behind bars.
Messi was also fined €2 million (NZ$3.1 million) after being found guilty of three counts of tax fraud, a court in the Spanish city said on Wednesday.
His father, Jorge, received the same sentence and was fined €1.5 million.
However, in Spain it is customary that those sentenced to under two years for non-violent crimes do not serve time in jail – making it unlikely the star or his dad will be imprisoned.
Messi, 29, and his father were accused by the Spanish tax office of defrauding the government of €4.2 million in tax between 2007 and 2009
Messi, five-times World Player of the Year, said during the trial that he had no knowledge of the dealings and that his father had control over his financial affairs. But the court said this was not enough for him to avoid charges.