Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been found guilty on three counts of tax fraud and each sentenced to 21 months in prison by a Barcelona court.
Neither is likely to serve any time in jail -- Spanish law dictates a non-violent tax prison sentence under two years can be served under probation. Messi has been ordered to pay a fine of $2.2 million, and his father must pay $1.66 million.
Messi was found guilty of defrauding the Spanish government of $4.5 million in image rights commissions between 2007 and 2009 by way of shell companies in various tax haven countries, including Belize and Uruguay.
Messi, who makes $81.4 million annually in total earnings, made a voluntary payment of $5 million to Spanish tax authorities in August 2013 to cover unpaid taxes.
Jorge Messi manages financials for his son, and he was the person to review the image rights contracts with Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and others.
Messi told the court in June 2016: "As my dad explained earlier I just dedicated myself to playing football, I put trust in my father, in the lawyers who had decided to manage this thing … the truth is no, I didn't know."
Messi's soccer club -- for which he's produced 453 goals, four Champions League titles, and eight Spanish league titles -- is standing behind him. A statement was released by the club following the court ruling, per ESPN: "FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defense of his honesty and his legal interests."
The Argentinian international recently retired from the national team following a defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final, although fans still hope for his return. The loss was his forth consecutive defeat in the final of a major international competition.