LIONEL Messi has today been handed a PRISON sentence for tax fraud – but he is unlikely to spend a day behind bars.
The Argentina and Barcelona star was sentenced to 21 months in jail when he appeared in court this morning, according to Spanish media.
The £256,000-a-week star was also fined £1.7 million – six seeks’ wages – by a court in Barcelona.
Superstar Messi, considered the world’s best player, was tried alongside his father Jorge after defrauding Spain’s tax authority of 4.1m euros (£3.19m) from 2007-09.
During the trial, prosecutors said tax havens in Belize and Uruguay were used to conceal huge earnings from his lucrative image rights.
Messi, 29, said he “knew nothing” about his financial affairs because he was busy “playing football”, adding that he signed documents without reading them.
But Messi is set to avoid being sent to prison under a quirk in Spanish law.
A rule in the country dictates that any sentence under two years means the punishment is suspended.