Spain prosecutor says not opposed to lifting prison sentence for Messi

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The Barcelona state prosecutor said on Friday it was not opposed to substituting a 21-month prison sentence for a fine for tax fraud handed down to Lionel Messi, as long as the fine was the maximum allowed under law.

This is the claim of Mundo Deportivo journalist Xavier Bosch, who has penned a lengthy piece on the "four days that saved Messi" a year ago.

In line with what has been proposed by the prosecutors, a judge will now make the final decision.

Messi's appeal against the sentence was rejected by the Supreme Court last month, but his father's jail time was reduced because he paid some of the taxes.

The state prosecutor was not immediately available to comment today.

Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison for a 4.1 million euro tax fraud after he defrauded income from his image rights which he instead concealed through a network of offshore shell companies, Efe news reported.

However, Messi was never expected to serve time in jail, as under the Spanish system, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation.

Messi's case was one of the first high-profile investigations by Spanish authorities into top football players' tax affairs.

Messi is not the only football star to run into problems with Spain's courts, with Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo the latest to have been summoned to appear before a judge investigating tax fraud. Both have denied wrongdoing. This would be on top of a almost 2 million euro fine that was handed down as part of last year's sentence.

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