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Messi Tax Fraud Trial Set For May 31

Messi-Barca-FansThe trial of Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father for tax fraud will begin on May 31 at a court in Barcelona, a regional superior court said Wednesday.

Messi, recently named Ballon d’Or winner for a record fifth time, and his father Jorge have been charged with tax fraud for allegedly failing to declare 4.16 million euros ($4.69 million) in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009.

The trial will run until June 3, the Catalan Superior Court of Justice said in a statement. State prosecutors are asking for both men to be sentenced to prison terms although I don’t know if anyone expects Messi or his father actually going to jail over this case.

Last month the pair were cleared of separate allegations relating to charitable friendlies played in 2012 and 2013 after a judge heard testimony from an Argentine businessman who organized the matches.

The player had been investigated in that case to see if he had failed to declare to the tax man any revenue made from taking part in a series of friendlies in Mexico, Colombia, the United States and Peru.

Messi has been expected to play for Argentina in the Copa America Centenario Tournament this summer in the US which is expected to run from June 3 through June 26. With a trial that ends the day when the competition kicks off, Messi’s participation has to be in serious doubt.