Eight football greats who have fallen foul of the Spanish taxman

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Eight football greats who have fallen foul of the Spanish taxman
Ronaldo will appear in court accused of tax fraud and Messi has already been convicted. Photo: AFP

From Barcelona's star striker Lionel Messi to his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, many football stars have fallen foul of the Spanish taxman over the past few years.


Ronaldo appears in court on Monday, accused of evading €14.7 million  ($17.2 million) in tax. He joins a long list of football greats under the spotlight in Spain:


Lionel Messi

Messi and his father face a judge during the June, 2016 trial. Photo: AFP

The five-time world player of the year was found guilty in 2016 of of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying €4.1 million in taxes on income he earned from his image rights.

He was sentenced to 21 months in jail and fined more than €2 million.

But his prison sentence has since been replaced by another fine of €252,000, which corresponds to €400 for each day of jail.

Javier Mascherano

Mascherano leaving court in October, 2015. Photo: AFP

Messi's Barcelona and Argentina teammate Mascherano accepted a one-year suspended sentence in January 2016 for tax fraud after he was found guilty of failing to pay 1.5 million euros in taxes for 2011 and 2012.   

Unlike Messi he avoided trial by admitting to tax evasion.

Angel di Maria

Photo: AFP

Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain star Angel di Maria was fined and given a 16-month prison sentence for tax fraud during his time at Real Madrid.   

But the 29-year-old, who played for Madrid between 2010 and 2014, is likely not to go to prison as is normal in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of less than two years.


Cristiano Ronaldo   

Real Madrid's star striker, accused of evading €14.7 million in taxes, appears in court on Monday. The Portuguese star faces four charges of fraud through offshore companies.

Jose Mourinho

Photo: AFP

The Manchester United manager is accused of evading €3.3 million in tax in 2011 and 2012, during his time in charge at Real Madrid.   

But Gestifute, which represents him, says he has already settled the matter with Spanish tax authorities.

Samuel Eto'o   

In November 2016, Spanish prosecutors sought a jail sentence of 10 years and fines totalling €18 million for Cameroonian football great Eto'o, who is accused of failing to pay 3.9 million euros in taxes during his time at Barcelona from 2004 to 2009.

Radamel Falcao

Falcao celebrating the Copa del Rey win in May 2014, when he played for Atletico Madrid. Photo: AFP

Colombian striker Falcao is suspected of failing to correctly declare €7.4 million of income earned from image rights between 2012 and 2013 while he was at Atletico Madrid.

He has since paid €8.2 million to Spanish tax authorities, a sum that includes interest on the original amount.

Jorge Mendes

The super-agent outside court in June. Photo: AFP

The Portuguese super-agent was put under official investigation last month by a Spanish court investigating alleged tax evasion by Falcao, a client of his.

The 51-year-old, whose other clients include Ronaldo and Mourinho, defended himself, telling the closed door hearing that he "never" advised players in tax matters.

Other footballers, including Brazil's Adriano, Chile's Alexis Sanchez or Portugal's Fabio Coentrao, have had similar legal woes.




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