MADRID, 6th July, 2016 (WAM)–Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi have been sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud by a Spanish court.

Under the Spanish law any sentence under two years can be suspended. The pair, who also face huge fines, can appeal their sentences through the Supreme Court.

The 29-year-old, among the world’s highest-earning athletes, was accused of creating a string of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid taxation on image rights earnings between 2007 and 2009.

During the trial, Lionel Messi insisted he knew nothing about the management of his financial affairs, saying his father dealt with them while he was playing football.

For his part, Jorge Messi claimed he did not have enough knowledge to orchestrate such a fraud, blaming his tax consultants instead.

WAM/Majok