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Published: 12:06 | 6/7/16

Messi handed suspended sentence

Lionel Messi has been handed a 21 month suspended sentence for breaching tax fraud.

Messi and his father Jorge Messi were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud after being accused of defrauding Spain of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009.

Authorities alleged the pair used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings, but during the course of the trial, the Barcelona superstar told the court that he "knew nothing" about the management of his financial affairs, claiming he signed documents without reading them because he trusted his father.

In addition to the 21-month sentence, Messi has been ordered to pay a fine of €2million, while his father must pay €1.5million.

Under Spanish law, a prison sentence under two years can be served under probation, which means he is unlikely to serve any time in prison.

Barcelona have offered their backing to Messi in light of the sentencing and will support him should he decide to appeal the ruling.

"FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today," a club statement read.

"The club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.

"FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests."

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