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Messi & father given 21-month jail sentence

Reporter: Joel Richards 丨 CCTV.com

07-07-2016 10:54 BJT

Lionel Messi has been found guilty of tax evasion by a Spanish court and -- along with his father -- handed a 21-month jail sentence. It's unlikely either will spend any time in prison, as Spain allows probation for terms under two years. Still -- it's a mighty blow for a superstar -- and comes as Messi has struggled ON the field as well.

2016 is perhaps not a year that Lionel Messi will look back upon fondly. The trial that started with this court appearance by the football star in early June ended with a 21-month suspended sentence for tax evasion, he and his father Jorge found guilty on three counts of tax fraud. The unpaid amount, totaling four and a half million dollars. Messi was also fined more than 2 million dollars. Messi received the full support from his club Barcelona with this statement:

In Messi's native Argentina, not much sympathy on the streets.

Throughout the trial in Spain, Lionel Messi stated that he knew nothing about his financial affairs. It was his father and advisors took care of the accounts, while the player focused on football for Barcelona, and the national team.

Despite winning the Spanish league with Barcelona in May, Messi's year has been marked by disappointment playing for Argentina -- losing a second straight Copa America Final to Chile last month. Messi even missed a penalty in the shootout. After the match, he announced he was quitting the national team. While it's thought Messi might re-consider playing for Argentina, this tax investigation adds more pressure off the field.

"This could have a real impact, but it won't have an effect on whether he returns to the national team or not. They're separate. The national team is a personal decision that he has to take. There are a lot of problems with the team, the coach Martino resigned, and the Football Association is in crisis. He'll take his time to resolve both football and financial problems separately," said Daniel Gabin, sports journalist.

Lawyers for Messi say he and his father will appeal the court ruling. Meanwhile, the star forward is due back for preseason training for Barcelona next week.

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