Ex-Barcelona player, Samuel Eto’o is the latest to be named in the Spanish tax scandal. The former Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter Milan striker now faces a long prison time.
Reports coming in from Spain suggest that the former Cameroonian forward avoided paying around £3.5m in tax during his 3-year spell at Barcelona between 2006-2009. The 4 time African Footballer of the Year faces 10.5 years in jail and a hefty fine of around £12m if charged guilty.
Eto’o is charged of getting around tax through a complicated and illegal image rights structure. The player ran 2 companies – Bulte 2002 in Spain and Tradesport in Hungry – and this allowed him to transfer his rights without having to pay taxes. The player failed to declare his sponsorship revenue, while he also received around £2m a year from Puma.
If the charges are true, it would mean that the current Antalyaspor player avoided paying the top tax rate, which was 45% at that time.
Along with the player, his agent at that time, Joseph Maria Mesalles, could also face charges and would have to face the prosecution. According to El Paris, there are 4 charges levelled against the player which could amount to 10.5 years behind the bar.
Eto’o spent 5 successful years at Barcelona between 2004-2009, scoring 129 goals in 201 appearances. Currently, the player has scored 3 goals in 8 appearances and he missed the last match against Trabzonspor due to a foot injury.
Meanwhile, Neymar is also facing the heat from the Spain authorities. The 24-year-old player is accused of fraudulently moving to Camp Nou from Santos. DIS – a partner of the Brazilian club – believe that they are owed more money than they received.
Eto’o is not the first player to face charges for avoiding tax. Current Barcelona forward, Messi, was also slapped with the same charges. The player along with his father were sentenced to 21 months prison time.
However, both of them avoided prison time as sentences of less than 24 months for first-time offenses in Spain are let off.
Javier Mascherano was also in the dock for following accusations of tax avoidance. Another ex-Barcelona player, Alexis Sanchez, is also facing similar charges. Yet the harsh reality of Spanish courts is that the player will avoid any jail time and pay fines like Messi and Mascherano.
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