Lionel Messi’s appeal against allegations of tax evasion has been thrown out by a Barcelona court and the Argentina star will now stand trial.
The Blaugrana forward and his father and agent, Jorge Messi, are accused of defrauding authorities over a tax amount totalling €4.1 million between 2006 and 2009.
It is alleged that Messi’s image rights were sold by Jorge – who assumed full responsibility when the case began – using companies in countries like Belize and Uruguay to avoid Spanish tax obligations.
A judge at a court in Gava, near Barcelona, determined in October 2014 that the 27-year-old would have to face trial over the allegations, despite his pleas that he was neither guilty nor fully aware of the suggested impropriety.
Messi immediately outlined his intention to appeal in a statement which read: “Through this press release I want to communicate that, after having received the order of the court of Gava and following the professional advice of my solicitors, I have decided to appeal against it.”
That appeal, heard by the Court of Barcelona, was rejected on Wednesday, however.
In addition to his claims of innocence, Messi and his father also made a voluntary payment of just over €5m to the authorities last year.
The case has cast a cloud over Messi despite his blistering form on the pitch which helped Barca achieve a domestic and continental treble, which was completed with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of Juventus in the Champions League final in Berlin.
The Argentine has been particularly impressive since the turn of the year after a public falling out with coach Luis Enrique.