Barcelona forward Lionel Messi summoned to court over £3.4m tax fraud allegations
The World Player of the Year denies the allegations
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.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant