(Reuters) - La Liga club Barcelona have expressed their support for Argentine striker Lionel Messi and his father after the Spanish Supreme Court upheld their prison sentences over tax fraud charges, although neither are expected to go to jail.
Five-time World Player of the Year winner Messi, who has been at Barcelona since the age of 13, was handed a 21-month prison sentence and fined 2 million euros ($2.25 million) for three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009.
“The club reiterates, once again, its full support for Leo Messi, his father Jorge Messi, and his family,” a statement on the club’s official website read. (www.fcbarcelona.com)
”FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu contacted the player’s family to communicate this support.
“The family was very grateful, not only for today’s gesture, but also for the support the player and his family have received from the club throughout this process. The club will continue to stand with Leo Messi, his father, and his family.”
Argentine international Messi has scored 506 goals in 582 senior appearances for Barcelona, winning eight league titles and four Champions League trophies.
($1 = 0.8896 euros)
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru