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La Liga chief Javier Tebas says that Lionel Messi is not a criminal

Utsav Agarwal
1.15K   //    15 Jul 2016, 14:14 IST
Lionel Messi court
Lionel Messi has had a difficult few weeks 

According to La Liga chief Javier Tebas, Lionel Messi is not a criminal even though he was found guilty of tax fraud by a Spanish court. The Argentine received a penalty of €2 million, with a 21-month prison sentence, although the La Liga chief hopes to see the little Argentine back on the pitch again.

Javier Tebas said: “I don’t consider him [Messi] a criminal and I’m happy with him staying in La Liga.” He added: “There are still options for the player and we have to wait for the final decision.”

Although sentenced to prison for 21 months, the five-time Ballon D’Or winner will be able to avoid prison time as his crime was non-violent and under 24 months, which according to Spanish laws is the minimum for a person to go to jail.

Also Read: Lionel Messi deserves the Ballon d'Or, says Ney mar Jr

Although according to reports from Spain suggest that the state prosecutor will not appeal the sentence, Messi’s legal side are widely expected to carry on with their defence to Spain’s Supreme Court.

Barcelona recently received a lot of flak due to their controversial social media campaign which read #WeAreAllLionelMessi to express their sympathy, which was met with a lot of criticism.

Tebas said: “I've already spoken about Messi –  I don't consider him a criminal and I'm happy with him staying in La Liga. There are still options for the player and we have to wait for the final decision.”

Also Read: Comparing Lionel Messi's Copa America 2016 performance with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 performance

Last week, Tebas claimed that Lionel Messi could be on his way out of Barcelona, as he claimed, “Of course I fear that Messi could leave, but the only thing I can tell him is that from La Liga we believe he isn't guilty and we are happy to have him here.”

On Messi and his father’s offence, Tebas said: “They were three verdicts of seven months each, not one of 21," he said. "They were not that severe. We are talking about the process that wasn't properly followed. I don't think Messi is a criminal. He fell victim to a faulty fiscal structure which will be changed.”

Lionel Messi recently announced his retirement from international football after his Argentina side failed to win their third final in a row, including the FIFA World Cup and two Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016. He ended the tournament with five goals and four assists.

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