Barcelona striker Lionel Messi and his father are to appear in a Spanish court over tax fraud allegations.
The 26-year-old four-time World Footballer of the Year and his father, Jorge Horacio, have been accused of defrauding the Spanish authorities of more than €4m (3.4m).
They are suspected of using companies- in Belize and Uruguay- to sell the rights to use Messi’s image so they would pay no tax in Spain, where the footballer leaves and plays professional football.
The player and his father have said they have done nothing wrong following their court summons as part of an enquiry into alleged tax fraud.
The two accused made a payment of €5m in August to the tax authorities- the €4.16m of the alleged unpaid tax with interest- but a BBC report states that prosecutors are still pursuing the case and as a result of the economic meltdown in Spain, authorities are willing to take a much tougher line.
They are expected to be questioned in a closed-court session in Gava, a Mediterranean coastal town near Barcelona.
They are accused of three counts of defrauding the Spanish state of taxes.
The income related to his image rights included contracts with FC Barcelona, Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Procter & Gamble, Kuwait Food Company and Pepsi-Cola.
Messi’s net salary from Barcelona is said to be about €16m a year.
He came from a modest background and has overcome a serious health issue, joining Barcelona as a 13-year-old in 2000 and making his first-team debut three years later.