Possibly the best player in the world and 5 time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi is attending his trial in Barcelona. The superstar and his father, Jorge Messi, are alleged to have defrauded the Spanish authorities for more than €4 million in image rights by using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay.
When the reports initially surfaced, the Argentine’s lawyer argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” any of the contracts. But that proved futile as the High Court in 2015 ruled that his ignorance towards his finances will not result in immunity from punishment if found guilty.
Messi’s father, Jorge was managing his finances and the Barcelona forward told the courts that “I signed what he(Jorge) told me to sign because I trusted my father.”
“I was playing football, I knew nothing,”, he added. “I only worried about playing football,”
The court is considering evidence on all fronts including contracts with Danone, Banco Sabadell, Adidas, Procter and Gamble, Pepsi-Cola and the Kuwait Food Company.
Due to the trial, Messi has missed out on training with the Argentina squad for the Copa America, which commences on Friday. Argentina’s first game is due to be played on the following Monday.
The trial that started on Tuesday is said to end on Friday and the verdict will be made public by next week. Both Messi and his father Jorge deny the charges but have made a voluntary “corrective payment” of €5 million, equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, in August of 2013.