Lionel Messi and his father will stand trial in Spain over tax fraud charges, a court has ruled today.
The Barcelona forward, 28, and father Jorge could now face a 22-month jail sentence if they are found guilty of the three charges.
It comes after the judge overseeing the case against the Argentina captain rejected a request by prosecutors to have it thrown out.
The pair are accused of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than €4million.
Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoided paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009.
Messi and his father made a voluntary €5million “corrective payment” – equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest – in August 2013.
Messi’s lawyers had argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, El Pais newspaper reported earlier.
No date has been set yet for the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s trial.