Lionel Messi due in court days before Celtic tie

BARCELONA forward Lionel Messi is due to appear in court - just days before he is due to line up to face Celtic in Glasgow in the Champions League.

Lionel Messi faces Celtic at Parkhead in November last year. Picture: Robert Perry
Lionel Messi faces Celtic at Parkhead in November last year. Picture: Robert Perry

Messi and his father will appear in court to answer charges of tax evasion on Friday, 27 September after a hearing scheduled for next week was postponed. Barcelona are due to face Celtic at Parkhead on Tuesday 1, October.

World Player of the Year Messi and his father Jorge Messi, who havde both denied wrongdoing, allegedly hid more than four million eurosby filing incomplete returns for the years 2006 to 2009. They have already made a “corrective payment” to Spanish authorities of just over five million euros.

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A lawyer for the Argentine pair asked for a 17 September hearing to be postponed as he had another commitment that day. Barcelona face Ajax on Wednesday, 18 September at the Nou Camp in their opening group stage match of the Champions League. Celtic will begin their campaign away to AC Milan in the group’s other fixture that same evening.

The Messis are now scheduled to appear at the court in Gava near Barcelona on 27 September.

According to the prosecutor’s office for tax crimes in Catalonia, income from the sale of Messi’s image rights was hidden using a complex web of shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

He has been resident in Barcelona since joining the club’s academy in 2000 and he gained Spanish citizenship five years later.

“I never take care of that (tax) stuff myself and neither does my father,” Messi, 26, said in July. “We have our lawyers and our wealth managers to take care of that and we trust them and they will sort this out. The truth is I don’t have a clue about all this and that is why we have people taking care of it.”