Lionel Messi’s lawyers believe they have an appeal to 21-month jail sentence

Tax fraud verdict wrong
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Lionel Messi to Appeal Tax Fraud Sentence
Barcelona's Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi (L) sits in court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona, Spain, June 2, 2016. Reuters/Alberto Estevez

The lawyers of Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi believe that they have an appeal to the 21-month jail time the Spanish court sentenced to Messi and his father for tax fraud.

Messi’s lawyers Enrique Bacigalupo and Javier Sanchez-Vera said the Argentine and his father behaved correctly and the appeal would persuade the court of that, according to Foxsports.

“The most recent laws from the supreme court on the matter that concerns us would seem to prove the argument of the defense,” they said.

Barcelona’s court has found Messi and his father guilty of tax fraud for avoiding paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($6.13 million) of the soccer star’s 2007-09 income earned from his image rights. Messi and his father used companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying the tax.

The court ruled that Messi and his father, who managed his son’s affairs since he was a child, should serve a sentence of seven months for each year of those three years.

The allegedly hidden income includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Proctor & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.

The court also fined Messi 2.09 million euros ($3.08 million) and his father 1.6 million euros ($2.36 million).

Neither of the two, though, is expected to serve time in jail.

Under Spanish legal system, a prison sentence of under two years in duration can be suspended, with the terms of a sentence carried out under probation if the offender has no prior criminal record.

BBC reports that FC Barcelona, the Spanish club that Messi plays for, fully supports their star player.

"The club... 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," the club said.

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