The four-time Ballon D’Or winner receives the worst birthday present ever.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has paid €10m to Spanish authorities in unpaid tax from 2010 and 2011 after being investigated for fraud, reports Spanish news source La Vanguardia.
On the day that the Argentinian celebrates his 26th birthday he is forced to shell out a significant chunk of his annual salary, after a dispute was raised over the Barca star illegally selling his image rights to foreign countries.
Messi and his father Jorge are due to appear in Spanish courts on September 17 over the accusations that the pair have sold the player’s rights to nations such as Belize and Uruguay – without declaring it.
With an annual income of around €30m with salary and endorsements the forward pays a hefty amount of tax and these accusations are in stark contrast to the Argentina international’s clean-cut persona.
Both current president at the Nou Camp Sandro Rosell and president at the time of the accusations, Joan Laporta, have spoken out in support of Messi, although the Spanish authorities have a less favourable view of the four-time Ballon D’Or winner’s actions.
It’s said that between 2006 and 2009 Messi “obtained significant revenue derived from the transfer to third parties of his image rights, income which should have been taxed,” state prosecutor Raquel Amado was quoted on ESPN.
With Spain in financial crisis the authorities are looking to clamp down on tax fraud in a big way, with former Barca and Real Madrid ace Luis Figo being forced to pay €2.45m in unpaid tax last year from payments dating back to 1997.
Although neither Messi, his club or his sponsors have paid much credit to the accusations, if the €10m has been paid it perhaps shows that the Argentine feared what might happen in court – with a potential jail sentence of six years if found guilty.