Prosecutors in Spain have dropped tax charges against Barcelona star Lionel Messi but are pushing for an 18-month jail sentence for the player’s father Jorge.
The pair were initially accused of defrauding the Spanish authorities of €4.1million by using a complex network of companies to sell Messi’s image rights in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
But prosecutors have now cleared the player on grounds of age and placed all responsibility on his father, who they claim had “the control of his tax obligations”.
A statement from the prosecutors’ office read: “The prosecution concludes that, due to his age and links with his father, it was Jorge who handled the economic benefits of the son.
“It has not proven that his [Lionel Messi’s] lack of knowledge was deliberate or was done with the aim of defrauding the public purse.”
The alleged fraud took place between 2007 and 2009.
Jorge Messi, who also faces a fine of €2m if found guilty, has always maintained his son’s innocence.
Last October, he told Spanish radio: “I have always said it, he had absolutely nothing to do with it, so there is no need to talk about it.
“My lawyers are dealing with this issue so it’s something with me and has nothing to do with him.”
The Spanish state legal service could still ask the court for Messi to appear as an accused in the case.
Their opinion on the case is yet to be published.