Prosecutors had alleged that tax havens in Belize and Uruguay were used to conceal earnings from image rights. But Messi said he "knew nothing" about his financial affairs, while his father said he was told by a legal adviser that the practice was legal. "FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed
out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today," read a statement from the Spanish champions. "The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.
"FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests."
It is pathetically that the news comes just nine days after Messi surprisingly
announced his retirement from international football after
missing a penalty in Argentina's defeat to Chile in the Copa América final.
FC Barcelona's react
"FC Barcelona expresses its full support to Leo Messi and his father in relation to the conviction for tax fraud...
"The club... considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish tax office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to
the facts underlined in this case."
It is not argument Messi is not the only Barcelona star to come under scrutiny
for his tax affairs, as team-mate Neymar was recently fined almost £40m by a Brazilian court for evading tax on his sponsorship deals, while last year Javier Mascherano received a 12-month prison sentence for tax avoidance but also avoided serving time.