Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

The 29 year old was accused of creating a string of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid taxation on €4.16m (£3.2m) of image rights earnings between 2007 and 2009.

His father,Jorge Messi, was also handed the same punishment but in which case the two can appeal their sentences through the Supreme Court.

However,under Spanish law any sentence under two years can be suspended meaning the former Argentina footballer will not be serving time in prison.

During the trial, Messi claimed that he ‘wasn’t aware’ of any wrong doings when asked by his father to sign contracts or documents relating to his image rights.He insisted that he was only ‘playing football.’