Lionel Messi and his father Jorge are all set to appeal against a Spanish court’s verdict to sentence them to 21 months in prison for tax fraud, according to the FC Barcelona star’s lawyers.

Messi’s lawyers had released a statement hours after the Argentine star was sentenced to 21 months in prison, claiming that the verdict by the Barcelona court was “incorrect”, and that the reigning Ballon d’Or winner would appeal this verdict in the Spanish Supreme Court.

“The sentence is not correct and we are confident the appeal will show the defence was right,” read the statement, according to the BBC. Messi was ordered to pay a fine of €2 million for his offences, while his father had to pay a fine of €1.5 million.

While both Lionel and his father Jorge Messi were sentenced to 21 months in jail, their lawyers Enrique Bacigalupo and Javier Sanchez-Vera were of the opinion that the appeal will show their clients had “acted correctly at all times”. However, an appeal at the Spanish Supreme would mean that the case will drag on for around another year (via ESPN).

The father-son duo were found guilty of evading around €4.1 million in tax over their earnings from 2007 to 2009. The prosecutors argued that the Barcelona star and his father had set up tax havens in Belize and Uruguay, while also using shell companies in the UK and Switzerland to avoid paying taxes.

Barcelona's football star Lionel Messi (R) and his father Jorge Horacio Messi listen as they face judges in a tax fraud case at the courthouse of Barcelona on June 2, 2016. The 28-year-old football star was cheered and jeered as he emerged from a van accompanied by his father Jorge Horacio Messi. The two are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.6 million) of Messi's income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/ ALBERTO ESTEVEZ / AFP / POOL / Alberto Estevez (Photo credit should read ALBERTO ESTEVEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

ALBERTO ESTEVEZ/AFP/Getty Images

However, Messi is believed to have paid out more than €5 million in taxes and arrears, after the news of the investigation on him broke out. Lionel and his father are also said to have paid around €10 million for their income on image rights.

Football Club Barcelona issued an official statement, to show their support for Lionel Messi and his family. The statement read, “FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today. The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.”

FC BARCELONA VS CELTA VIGO

Although Messi and his father have been sentenced to 21 months in jail, the duo would not actually have to spend any time behind bars. According to the Spanish legal system, jail sentences that are less than 24 months, for first time offenders, are usually considered as a “suspended sentence”. [via Sports Illustrated]

This means that the even if the two lose their appeal, they would merely have to serve out a 21 month probation sentence. However, any legal offence during this probation period could result in either of them being sent to prison.

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