If you were Leo Messi, you’d just give up by now. What a horrendous week the Barcelona forward is having. First off he’s outgunned by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in club football’s biggest match and then his name is banded about with regards to the leaked Panama Papers scandal.
That’s kind of as bad as it gets when you’re a living legend sitting atop a gleaming mountain of trophies and euros in an ivory tower on the Mediterranean coast.
It’s all very well to do such things when you’re Leo Messi, no one cares as long as you keep being the best – we’ve already kind of turned a blind eye to the ongoing legal proceedings against him by the Spanish government for tax evasion because he’s got particularly well-coordinated feet.
That law suit in question regards Leo and his father Jorge avoiding a tax bill of some €4 million from 2007-2009 by hiding Leo’s earning in shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, of course. It wouldn’t be a good old fashioned tax evasion case without Switzerland.
Although it should be noted Messi made a “corrective payment” of €5 million, he’ll stand trial with his father next month and the state attorney has recommended jail terms of 22 months each if found guilty.
But we’ll get back to the matter at hand, that particular case can wait until June when the trial takes place.
While holding money offshore isn’t illegal, Spanish newspaper El Confidencial has accused Messi of creating a company solely with the aim of evading taxes. It’s unconfirmed, and Messi has denied any such allegations.
The accusations stem from the Panama Papers, which yes sounds like a Bridget Jones’ Diary spin off – you know, the one where she goes to Central America and is tracked down by a sweaty Hugh Grant to a banana plantation.
The Panama Papers are the one of the biggest leak of private documents ever and other sporting stars are finding their offshore bank accounts aren’t so hidden, including golf star Nick Faldo, French legend and FIFA ex-con Michel Platini and 72 cap former Argentine, Manchester United and Real Madrid left back Gabriel Heinze. Some football players transcend the sport, and Messi is no different. His reach extends as far as political economics and fiscal philosophy.
Messi has denied the allegations in the strongest possible terms and has ordered his lawyers to start looking into suing any outlets that report he’s “creating a web of fiscal fraud.” Which I mean, obviously he hasn’t. It was his dad.
I do feel bad for Leo. Not only was probably none of this his doing but his advisors’, lawyers’, agents’ and an assortment of other leeches’, he also probably didn’t have a clue it was happening. This is not a man who needs to be checking his accounts every day to see if he can afford to go out for a pint.
And speaking of kicking a ball, that hasn’t gone entirely accordingly to plan for him this weekend either. While Messi was probably Barça’s best player on the pitch, if he doesn’t score at least a hat trick, then he’s deemed a failure. The curse of such high standards, eh. And while Ronaldo was scoring down the other end, his taxes seemingly in more competent hands, Messi was left frustrated by his strike partner Luis Suárez who squandered a couple of glorious chances to make Real pay.
And if Messi is a numbers man, which he clearly isn’t, then the fact Cristiano has now scored 16 Clásico goals to Messi’s 15 (both in 25 games) will rub the salt in the wounds all the more.
Never mind, Leo. The sooner you get out of Spain and come back to Newell’s Old Boys, the better.