Barcelona’s Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano has been sentenced to one year in prison for not properly paying taxes in Spain but is unlikely to serve any jail time. Mascherano failed to pay nearly €1.5m in taxes during 2011 and 2012, and was convicted of concealing earnings from his image rights.
The versatile midfielder-cum-defender was fined about €800,000 (£611,000) on Thursday and will not receive any tax benefits for a year. As regards to his prison sentence, the 31-year-old is expected to bypass the sentence with another fine or the sentence might be entirely dismissed.
Mascherano joined Barcelona from Liverpool in the summer of 2010 and has been the club’s lynchpin ever since. In 2015, he was part of Luis Enrique’s quintuple-winning side and also guided Argentina to the Copa America final where he ended up on the losing side.
The ex-captain of Argentina released a statement soon after the verdict, saying via his Twitter account and Barcelona’s official website: “I’m a sporting professional, I don’t have a great understanding of tax and legal matters.
“Therefore, to deal with what are for me technical and complicated matters, I have to rely on other people.
“Throughout all my career I have been an honest person, responsible and respectful of my team-mates and the clubs that I have played for and the countries I have lived in.
“I reserve the possibility of action against those who have badly advised me by recommending something that was not right.”
With Mascherano’s Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi and Neymar facing similar trials for their respective tax fraud cases, it remains to be seen how unsettling the entire scenario becomes for the reigning European champions.