Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud by a Spanish court.
Under Spanish law, any sentence under two years can be suspended meaning the Barcelona and former Argentina footballer is expected to avoid serving time in prison.
The 29-year-old, among the world’s highest-earning athletes, was accused of creating a string of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid taxation on €4.16m (£3.2m) of image rights earnings between 2007 and 2009.
The Argentinian’s father Jorge Horacio Messi has also been handed the same punishment. The pair, who also face huge fines, can appeal their sentences through the Supreme Court.
During the trial, Messi said he never suspected any wrongdoing when his father would ask him to sign contracts or documents relating to his image rights, a lucrative source of income for any athlete of his calibre.
Here are some of the reactions captured on the social media immediately after the sentencing.
— RANsquawk (@RANsquawk) July 6, 2016
— Hardeep Singh (@TheRealistSingh) July 6, 2016
@MichaelVaughan he is very good at missing penalties
— Brendon Vella (@wogsrus) July 6, 2016
So what this jail sentence.. Or conviction rather, gonna do with regards to Messi travelling internationally.. Being a criminal now
— Kalex // Willzy (@WillzyArtist) July 6, 2016
Messi sent to jail for tax fraud, in Kenya NYS, Eurobond etc, thieves r celebrated we only sentence food thieves. pic.twitter.com/i6gY3dudWO
— Raphael Kioko (@Kioko001) July 6, 2016
Leo Messi gets 21-month jail sentence for tax fraud. At least someone else will in prison will be able to score because of his penalty.
— (((Emanuel Z.))) (@therealezway) July 6, 2016
How Ronaldo feels after finding out that Messi won’t serve his 21 month jail sentence… Safe to say he’s mad ?https://t.co/unapS2ongF
— Free Bets (@freebetscouk) July 6, 2016
Ronaldo when he heard Messi had a jail sentence but it was suspended! pic.twitter.com/vF0A6KXuwK
— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) July 6, 2016
Messi given a 22 month sentance but he won’t actually go to jail because missing the penalty is what he does best
— Brooks (@ClassyDrogba) July 6, 2016
Messi got a 21 million Month jail sentence for tax frauds???
— Cameron Sidhu (@sidhu_cameron) July 6, 2016
— Just Frank (@bluredfrank) July 6, 2016