Barcelona forward Lionel Messi summoned to court over £3.4m tax fraud allegations

The World Player of the Year denies the allegations

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The Independent Football

Lionel Messi has been summoned by a Spanish court amid allegations the World Player of the Year and his father Jorge defrauded the Spanish tax office of £3.4m (€4m)

A court in the town of Gava near Barcelona accepted a state prosecutor's complaint and the pair have been asked to appear for questioning.

Messi and his father have been called to appear on September 17. That will form part of an investigation to determine whether there exist grounds to officially charge them with tax evasion.

The court accepted the complaint lodged by prosecutor Raquel Amada on June 12 accusing the pair of not paying the correct taxes from revenue earned from image rights on Messi's income tax returns from the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Messi and his father are suspected of using companies abroad - in Belize and Uruguay - to sell the player's image rights. The accusation is that by using companies based outside Spain, Messi and his father have avoided paying more than £3.4m in tax.

The 25-year-old Argentina international has denied the allegations.

Writing on his Facebook page after the original allegations were made, Messi wrote: "We have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation."

The Argentina international is among the wealthiest footballers in the world. He is understood to command a salary in excess of €16 million (£13.5m) from his club while endorsements from sponsors Adidas, PepsiCo and P&G are in excess of that figure. In the most recent Forbes' rich list he came 10th among the top-earning athletes.

If convicted, Messi could face up to six years in jail and a large fine, according to Spain's EFE news agency.