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Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been sentenced to 21 months in prison after a court in Barcelona found him guilty of three counts of tax fraud.

The sentence can be appealed through the Spanish Supreme Court, a statement from the court said.

It is unlikely Messi or his father will serve a stretch behind bars, however. Under Spanish law, a prison sentence under two years can be served under probation if you have no prior criminal record.lionel-messi---barcelona-la-liga_26-195

The court ordered Messi to pay a fine of around Sh 220 million and his father to pay Sh 160 million.

When giving evidence earlier this summer, Jorge Messi absolved his son of all blame, with the 28-year-old claiming he did not “read the documents, only sign them.”

Messi is currently on a summer break after playing at the Copa America with Argentina

Barcelona released a short statement in support of Messi.

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“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.

“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.”

Lionel Messi’s club-mate and former international colleague Javier Mascherano was similarly handed a jail sentence over a tax offence last year but did not ever set foot in a prison.

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