Lionel Messi And Father Accused Of Tax Fraud By Spanish Authorities

Lionel Messi and his father Jorge are being investigated by Spanish authorities for allegedly defrauding the Spanish public purse of more than 4m euros (£3.2m).

According to officials in Spain, the Barcelona striker and his father, both originally from Argentina, are alleged to have filed fraudulent tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009. A lawsuit was filed by prosecutor Raquel Amado in Catalonia on Wednesday, alleging three offences against the treasury.

The 25-year-old Messi, widely regarded as the world's greatest player and recipient of the FIFA player of the year for the past four seasons running, has yet to comment on the allegations.

Messi, whose salary at Barcelona is reported to be more than 16m euros a year, is accused with his father of selling the footballer's image using companies abroad, thus avoiding tax in Spain. If found guilty, the star footballer could face a custodial sentence and a large fine, with Spanish news agency EFE suggesting he could spend up to six years in prison.