Lionel Messi will have to stand trial for a tax fraud after his appeal was rejected by a Barcelona judge.
The player and his father Jorge are accused of avoiding £3million for the tax years 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Messi’s father Jorge had argued his son was under-age at the time that a series of companies in Belize and Uruguay were set up to manage the player’s commercial deals. And that he has had no part in their administration.
But a judge has decreed that the court will need to decide if Messi knew about the operations and was aware that they were illegal; and that he would have to testify in person in a court case likely to be held this summer.
During the three years in question Messi signed contracts with Banc Sabadell, Telefonica, Danone, Air Europa, Adidas and Pepsi for the combined sum of €10m (£7.3m) but no tax in Spain was paid on them.
In the Messi family’s appeal originally launched last October it was claimed that Lionel left all commercial business to his father and had not dedicated ‘even a minute’ of his life to reading or analysing it.
But the appeal verdict, decided on Monday but published on Wednesday in Barcelona, decrees that the possibility Messi did not know about the operations should not prevent him from taking the stand.