Messi In Tax Controversy
The Barcelona star, voted Fifa’s World Player of the Year for the last four years running, and his father Jorge Horaco Messi are jointly accused of filing fraudulent tax returns during 2007 to 2009.
A judge must now decide whether to accept a complaint lodged by a public prosecutor on Wednesday in Gava, a seaside town near Barcelona where the Argentine footballer has a home.
The alleged fraud amounts to €4.1m and was said to have commenced before Messi, who turns 26 later this month, came of age and while his father was in charge of his financial affairs. The crimes could carry a jail sentence of up to six years and a fine of up to six times the defrauded amount.
“The punishment would usually be between one and five years but it could be avoided as long as an agreement with the tax office is reached,” José María Mollinedo, the secretary general of the Union of Finance Ministry Technicians, said in an interview with Spain’s COPE radio.
“If the player pays and admits his involvement, he could obtain a reduction in the minimum punishment, because of which he would not have to go to prison.”
Sandro Rosell, current president of Barca said the club had “no doubts about the innocence” of its star player.
Joan Laporta, the former Barcelona president, was in agreement.
“I am convinced that neither Leo nor his father have commited any infraction. It could be that they don’t have any responsibility in these events and that third parties are to blame,” said Laporta, who ran the club between 2003-2010.
“I know them and they have always wanted to act within the law, and that’s how they acted with the club.”
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Villa Praises ‘Incomparable’ Messi
Barcelona striker David Villa has hailed team-mate Lionel Messi, saying the Argentina captain is incomparable to other footballers. The 24-year-old Messi has been in a rich vein of form this season and his hat-trick in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Atletico Madrid has put him at the top of La Liga’s scoring charts with eight goals.
Messi has said he is looking to surpass Cesar Rodriguez’s scoring record for Barcelona, and while Villa played down individual feats, he noted that the diminutive forward is in a league of his own. “Messi does incredible things,” Villa told reporters. “His stats make you cover your eyes. He cannot be compared to anyone. We are delighted.” The 29-year-old Villa, who has scored five goals in all competitions this season, stressed he is happy with life at Camp Nou. “Being at this club is a symptom of happiness,” Villa said. “I am very happy both on and off the field and I hope to stay here for many more years.” “I am not used to being a substitute, but in the dressing room there are 15 or 16 players who are not used to it either.”
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has highlighted similarities between Robin van Persie and Barcelona star Lionel Messi, following the former’s latest brace for Arsenal.
“I see similarities, positional-wise, with Messi,” said Wenger. “He likes to come deep and he likes to turn up, up front. Don’t make me make a comparison with Messi but it is just that positional-wise he is not really like the real centre forward.
Messi Reflects on Game and Records
Leo was near his best last night in Barcelona’s 5-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid, but he immediately put the focus on the rest of his team after the match.
“I must thank my colleagues,” he told AS. “We have shown that when we play well, we enjoy our football. “It was a difficult game as Atletico came and stood their ground well,” he continued. “They possess a great team, and earned our respect from the first minute, but the goal put the game in our favour and we quickly took control.”
The Argentine also closed into within two goals of catching legendary Hungarian striker Laszi Kubala, who scored 194 goals in total.Speaking to BarcaTV, Messi said “I’m pretty calm about it. I just take it a game at a time, but obviously I’m very excited about becoming top scorer. Many years have gone by and it’s still the same player [referring to Kubala]. Hopefully I can beat his stats. I want to continue breaking records here”.
“We have to take it all bit by bit, without thinking about milestones. I think the most important thing for this team is to keep winning, and keep winning titles for us and the fans. This is far more important than any individual prize or statistic”
Messi admits that they still have to adapt to the 3-4-3 system that Guardiola has used recently, but he’s pretty excited about it: “We feel pretty comfortable with it. There are some things we still aren’t doing well, just like with the previous system, but that’s OK. It takes time and practice. We still aren’t totally used to it. Personally I’m pretty happy, because up front we have more space and we can link up better with the midfield players, and receive more passes”.