It hasn’t been the easiest year for Lionel Messi. Sure, his club Barcelona won their league by the slimmest of margins over hated rival Real Madrid, but they fell short of their ultimate goal of winning the Champions League. After that, his Argentinian national team once again failed to win a major tournament (this time the Copa America), prompting him to abruptly retire from international soccer.
Oh, and all that happened while Messi had the specter of a tax fraud indictment hanging over his head.
After a lengthy trial obsessed over by soccer fans worldwide, Messi and his father Jorge have been found guilty of tax fraud by hiding money Lionel received from image and likeness rights in overseas bank accounts. The soccer star was sentenced to 21 months in prison, but Spanish law dictates that a prison term shorter than three years may be served in probation rather than jail. Jorge was also sentenced to jail time, but similarly will not have to serve behind bars.
Until the terms of his probation are released, we won’t know exactly what kind of implications this will have on Messi’s career, but a betting man would say that he’ll be able to go on playing for his club, and in a matter of years, not too many people will remember these legal troubles.