UK & World News
Lionel Messi In Court Over Tax Charges
Footballer Lionel Messi has arrived at a Spanish court to face tax evasion charges.
The Barcelona midfielder entered the court in Gava, Barcelona, the suburb where he lives, with his lawyers.
He made no comment to the waiting crowd of reporters and fans.
Jorge Messi, his father, had arrived to attend the court for questioning by a judge an hour earlier.
The two had been summoned to go before a judge on charges of evading tax on earnings from selling the player's image rights.
It is alleged they should have paid the Spanish tax system ?4.16m (£3.6m) on earnings between 2006 and 2009.
They have denied wrongdoing. Jorge Messi paid the tax authorities ?5m in August - the ?4.16m claimed by the taxman plus interest.
It is said the payment he made should significantly reduce any sentence in the event they are found guilty.
Lionel Messi, 26, is widely considered to be the best footballer in the world and has been named Fifa World Player of the Year four times.
Messi junior has said he has been unaffected by the allegations hanging over him.
He said in July: "I am not worried, I'm always on the sidelines of all that, just like my dad.
"We have our lawyers and our advisers who handle these things. We trust in them and they will solve the issue."
The case began in June when a prosecutor accused the Messis of evading tax by funnelling income derived from the player's image rights through "purely instrumental entities", in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay.
According to the prosecutor's report, Messi "obtained significant income" from image rights between 2006 and 2009 on which he "should have paid tax in his subsequent declarations" to the Spanish authorities and failed to do so.
The alleged offences are punishable by a jail sentence, but this is thought to be unlikely.
Between 2007 and 2009 he earned more than ?10.17m (£8.8m) in image rights.
Forbes magazine lists him as the 10th highest paid sportsman in the world with an annual income of $21m (£13.5m) from endorsements alone.