BARCELONA: Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is set to face trial for alleged tax evasion, a Spanish judge has ruled.
The judge rejected a prosecution appeal to drop the charges on the grounds the player’s father was responsible for his finances.
Messi, who captained Argentina to runners-up slot at the World Cup finals in Brazil in July, and his father Jorge are accused of defrauding the authorities of more than €4m (£3.1m; $5m).
The pair, who deny wrongdoing, have five days to appeal against the ruling. It is alleged that they withheld the money between 2007 and 2009.
The income related to Messi’s image rights, including contracts with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Proctor and Gamble, and the Kuwait Food Company.
The judge ruled: “In this type of crime, it is not necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the accounting and business operations nor the exact quantity, rather it is sufficient to be aware of the designs to commit fraud and consent to them.”