LEO MESSI SENTENCED: Reports in Spain indicates that Barcelona and Argentina football mega-star, Lionel Messi, has been sentenced to 21 months in prison after being found guilty of fiscal fraud.

According to the news, Messi has also been given a €2million fine for three counts of tax fraud. His father is believed to have been handed the same prison sentence and a smaller fine of close to €1.5m.

The 29-year-old Barcelona talisman, who is among the world’s highest-earning athletes, was accused of creating a string of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid taxation on €4.16m (£3.2m) of image rights earnings between 2007 and 2009.

Under Spanish law, neither Messi nor his father would be required to spend any time in prison if the sentence is shorter than two years.

Messi appeared in court in Barcelona in early June alongside his father to testify against charges of tax evasion.

During the trial, Messi said he never suspected any wrongdoing when his father would ask him to sign contracts or documents relating to his image rights, a lucrative source of income for any athlete of his calibre.

“I was playing football. I had no idea about anything,” Messi told the court at the time. “I trusted my dad and my lawyers.”

Witness Eva Blazquez, responsible for handling the four-time Champions League winner’s tax declarations, said: “Leo didn’t see them. The final supervision was done by the client, in this case, Jorge Messi.”

Messi’s father reiterated last month that his son didn’t know the details of his contracts. “I didn’t think it was necessary to inform him of everything,” he said.

Messi and his father have the right to appeal the sentence.

Messi, the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, has won four Champions League and eight Spanish La Liga titles with Barcelona.

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