In last few years we have heard or read many stories of tax frauds by footballers. Footballers involved in clubs and national teams earn huge bucks that amounts to millions of dollars especially those who play in European tournaments like Premier League, La-Liga and Bundesliga. Despite the fact that we all are equal the law, in many countries, there is also a provision to escape jail terms by paying fine. Here is a list of such players who were involved in tax fraud. Interestingly these are famous players and are among top paid athletes in the world.
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Javier Alejandro Mascherano is a professional Argentine Footballer who has played for numerous clubs like River Plate, Corinthians, West Ham United, Liverpool and Barcelona apart from his national team Argentina. He currently plays in the Chinese Premier League.
In the year 2016, during his career at Barcelona, he was sentenced to a year in prison and €815000 (£625000) for two separate tax offenses in the year 2011(4 months) and 2012(8 months). His tax offenses include failure in declaring the earnings from image rights that he ceded to companies which he owns in Portugal and United States.
He was released on a bail after paying the fine.
In Spain, people can pay fine to avoid jail term for a sentence that amounts to less than two years. Punishment is only for violent crime.
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One of the most famous footballers of the current generation, Forward, Lionel Messi plays for Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He is a club legend for Barcelona and their leading goal-scorer of all time.
Messi and his father were found in tax fraud of €4.7 million in the year 2016. They were found to have used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay as well as the shell companies in U.K. and Switzerland to avoid tax on Messi’s image rights between 2007 and 2009.
The duo paid a fine of €3.5m in total to avoid jail terms.
According to Forbes Magazine, Messi earns a total of over $80 million a year, making him No. 3 in their list of world’s highest-paid athletes for 2017.
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Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Paris St. Germain and the Brazilian national team. The forward was famous for the Messi, Suarez and Neymar ‘MSN’ term that was used during his presence in La-Liga side Barcelona.
Neymar was fined £50.7 million in 2016 where he failed to properly report earning on his contracts with his former clubs (Santos and Barcelona) including his sponsorship deals between 2011 and 2014. However, he was cleared of all his charges in his native Brazil following his £196m move to PSG last year. He paid a reduced fine of ($19.94m) on appeal.
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One of the famous football superstars of all and the legend of Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Portugal national team apart from R.M.F.C. in La-Liga. He has won back to back La-Liga titles for his club.
Ronaldo was alleged to have defrauded the Spanish Treasury of €14.7 million in taxes from 2011 to 2014. He was claimed to have used three shell companies to conceal part of his income. He was asked to pay €252,000 to avoid a jail term.
He is the most paid Athletes in the world and he is reported to have annual earnings of $93m including endorsements in 2017 by the Forbes Magazine.
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Alexis Alejandro Sanchez is a professional Chilean footballer who plays for cash rich side Manchester United in the English Premier League. He spent a majority of his career in Barcelona and Arsenal.
Alexis was accused of defrauding the Spanish court of €1m in the year 2013 and 2014. He used image rights by using a shell company in Malta and omitted the earnings from tax returns. He was given a two separate eight months jail sentence and was asked to pay a fine of £590,000 in total.