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Lionel Messi Receives 21-Month Prison Sentence


Argentina's Lionel Messi waits for trophy presentations after the Copa America Centenario championship soccer match, Sunday, June 26, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Wednesday for his role in tax fraud in Spain. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Argentina's Lionel Messi waits for trophy presentations after the Copa America Centenario championship soccer match, Sunday, June 26, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Wednesday for his role in tax fraud in Spain. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

This is What’s Trending Today:

Lionel Messi is known for escaping defenders on the soccer field.

But he was not able to escape a conviction for tax fraud in Spain this week.

A court in Barcelona, Spain, sentenced the Argentinian soccer star to 21 months in prison on Wednesday.

Messi plays for Barcelona’s soccer team during the club season. He is the five-time winner of FIFA’s player of the year award.

Investigators in Spain said they found evidence that Messi and his father, Jorge, hid money that should have been taxed by the Spanish government. The younger Messi earned the money from 2007 to 2009.

Tax inspectors said over $4 million of Messi’s money went to accounts in Uruguay, Switzerland and Belize.

Messi was fined over $2 million. His father was fined about $1.5 million. Jorge Messi was also sentenced to 21 months.

Neither man, however, is expected to spend any time in prison. In Spain, first offenses carrying sentences of less than two years are usually suspended.

Both Messis told the court they did not think they were breaking any laws.

The news about Messi was one of the top trending topics around the world on Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday. People made their feelings clear about Messi’s actions.

Zaheed Sabur used Facebook to say: “you already have more than you can ever spend. Shame on you Leo Messi!”

And, many people questioned why Messi could not pay his taxes like everyone else.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Do you think Messi should go to jail? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

offense – n. a criminal act

club – n. a sports team or organization

convictionn. the act of proving that a person is guilty of a crime in a court of law

fraudn. the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person

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