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Messi will stand trial for fraud. Oh no he won’t, oh yes he will, oh… could the press have been taken for a ride?

By Tony Attwood

Lionel Messi tax charges dropped in Spain shouted the Daily Telegraph, always keen to lend a hand to the very rich and famous – although you can always tell when they know they haven’t checked the facts properly because the article was attributed to “Telegraph Sport”.

Lionel Messi tax fraud case: Barcelona player will not stand trial over allegations chimed in the Independent’s Mark Critchley in what turned out to be not his finest hour.

Both papers along with lots of blogettas following in their wake pronounced the same theme.  As the Indy said, “Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi was initially charged with tax fraud but will not stand trial for the allegations,” before adding the get out clause “according to Spanish news reports.”
And where did those reports come from?  The source of 90% of the “Cesc spotted at airport” stories.  The Spanish paper AS – although to be fair to AS, what they said is actually rather ambiguous.
Anyway the notion that Messi the Younger had got away with it spread like wildfire among the newspapers that love to print stuff with properly checking and so they said how Messi the Elder would be done for crimes against the state’s purse.   But a little bit of checking will show that on 6 October even the dreaded AS managed to say “Prosecutors in Barcelona have decided to charge Barcelona player Leo Messi with tax fraud in relation to the management of his image rights.”

As for the comment that appeared in various papers that, “It has not been proven that his [Messi the Younger’s] lack of knowledge was deliberate or was done with the aim of defrauding the public purse”, who knows where they got that from.

Publishing stories without checking their truth is of course the norm for blogettas as is publishing stories that are palpably untrue.  But when the national press join in, well!  All one can do is a shake of the head.

Of course once the headline has been cast, others scurry along behind, as with “Lionel Messi will not stand trial for tax fraud” by Anthony Lopopolo who writes for Bleacher.  Checking the facts?  Not on Bleacher.

“Messi would still appear as a witness, but his name has been cleared of wrongdoing,” he pronounced, as it turned out, wrong on every point on which he pronounced.

It was Kelly Phillips Erb of the infinitely more reputable Forbes, that told us what happened.   “Earlier this week, El Pais reported that the prosecution would drop criminal tax charges against the soccer star and only move forward against Messi’s father. However, according to court documents made public today, that request was overruled. El Pais now reports that “acting in opposition” to the Fiscalía (Forbes compares this to the DA) the higher state authority wants the case to proceed.

“The Treasury,” Forbes tells us, “believes that Messi acted consciously and voluntarily). Prosecutors in the case had originally found that Messi’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi, was solely responsible for the alleged fraud… The judge has decided that Lionel Messi and his father Jorge will both stand trial for three counts of tax fraud. The latest indication is that Messi and his father could each face a jail sentence of 22 months and 15 days together with a fine of €4.1 million”.

So it is alleged that income from deals with Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and Adidas were routed through a maze of companies in Belize, Uruguay, the U.K. and Switzerland.

Now what is very interesting, and what the Telegraph, Independent and Bleacher and others could have asked is this:  Did the prosecutor in the case actually argue that Lionel Messi should not have to answer the charges as his father oversaw his finances?   That seems bizarre.  The defence might suggest that, but surely not the prosecution.

But if the Telegraph, Indy and Bleacher got it right and the case was dropped by the prosecution, why would that be?   It can’t really be because the prosecution thought there was no evidence to bring a prosecution, because the court felt there was.  If there is any chance of there being a case the prosecution brings a case and lets the judge decide.

And besides, the court had previously ruled that Messi could have known about and approved the creation of a web of shell companies that were allegedly used to evade taxes on income from image rights because there were clear traces of the money turning up in the aforementioned Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, according to the prosecutor’s office.

It is difficult to know why such a complete messi was made of the reporting, but it is one more clear indication that even the serious press is no longer bothering with any sort of investigation in its reporting, especially when stuff happens in foreign places involving foreigners.

Or could it be that they simply fell foul of the propaganda machine that surround Messi?

Certainly we have seen occasions before of both the Independent and the Telegraph taking press releases and publishing them as if they were the result of investigative journalism.  Indeed the Indy was caught out doing this with Barcelona’s special pleading against the transfer ban for child trafficking.  The Telegraph did it with a statement from PGMO about video refs after Walter revealed PGMO’s intransigence following initiatives in the Netherlands.

Perhaps overall it is best not to believe anything you read in the press.  Or the blogettas.

Untold’s all right though.

Most of the time.

Messi is 10th on Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s highest-earning athletes over the past decade with income of $350m.


The Untold Books

15 comments to Messi will stand trial for fraud. Oh no he won’t, oh yes he will, oh… could the press have been taken for a ride?

  • proudkev

    “Publishing stories without checking their truth is of course the norm for blogettas as is publishing stories that are palpably untrue. But when the national press join in, well! All one can do is a shake of the head”.

    Yep. Head scratching and head shaking are something I spend a lot of my time doing.

    Reminds me of the Jeremy Wilson story that was published as an “Exclusive” in the Telegraph:

    “Arsenal’s annual wage bill moves ahead of Chelsea’s for first time in more than a decade”

    This story was picked up and recycled by most media outlets. Pundits mentioned it during their efforts at punditry, radio presenters had a field day and phone in shows were inundated with calls from ‘A. WOB from Fantasy Football Land’. The blogs also went into meltdown.

    several months later, after much damage, it was exposed as being a lie. Jeremy Wilson when questioned about his ‘lie’, simply laughed it off with that smug look they all seem to have painted on their faces and admitted he had ‘guessed’. Guessed. He didnt explain why he hadnt mentioned in his ‘exclusive’ that he was guessing. He did what all the FFM’s do, he assumed he had become an expert in football finance and put two plus two together to get 8 then presented it as a fact.

    No accountability.

    You simply cannot beleive anything you read in the media. Nothing. These arent journalists, journalism died years ago, these are sensationalists who know very little about the subject they write about.

  • Jambug

    I know the ‘likes’ ‘dislikes’ is just a bit of fun, but I do find it strange when an in depth, basically ‘factual’ post like this gets a ‘dislike’ without an explanation.

    What’s to dislike?

    Perhaps the truth hurts?

    Perhaps it’s Jeremy himself still smirking away behind his keyboard?

    Either way, I wish they’d explain, otherwise it makes no sense without a counterpoint.

    Just saying.

  • Proudkev

    Jambug. A dislike may be because the person pressing that button believes the stories in the media. In other words, they are a bit thick.

  • gouresh

    The stupidity of all is this. He reportedly earns 350$ a yr, so why hs gone through this rigmarole to save a few million which I believe is in single digit? Surly he could have given that amount to charity and got a tax rebate and showed that he is a good law bidding citizen. He must have spent more on advisors, lawyers, accountants etc and not to mention sleepless nights trying to figure out how to save this amount.

  • Jambug

    Theoooooooooo………….. 1 – 0 To England.

    These pricks really do find it hard to give Walcott any credit.

    Hoddle: “He managed to keep his head this time”


    Theo has looked our best forward by a country mile.

  • Jambug

    Hoddle really is finding it hard to have a decent word to say about Theo.

  • Clockendrider

    Probably because the Mouth Breather from the marshes is having such an utterly anonymous game…..

  • andy bishop

    I think the sum of unpaid was 22 million which they have paid. They still have criminal charges to face.

  • Sukebe

    “Sensationalist” wow… Me like this word

  • Jerry

    OT: Sorry to go off topic Tony, but I know you are interested in the developments of State Aid United as well.

    Apparently the taxpayers are not only paying the bill for the stadium, but also “to pay stewards, medical staff, security personnel and other matchday staff” at Olympic Stadium according to the rental agreement.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From the facetious and eponymous Brickfields Gunners Blog , we learn that Messi is to be granted political and legal asylum by the newest nation in Europe , Catalonia . At midnight tonight (GMT) independence will be announced at the seat and pride of Catalan power , The Camp Nou Stadium , Barcelona .
    With this seceding from Spain , there is a cessation of all legal cases against Messi in their S courts. While the Argentinians aren’t too well pleased with their immidiate loss , they have reluctantly given their blessing to allow Messi to take up citizenship of this new nation .Had Messi been found guilty by the Spanish courts , they would have lost his services anyway. They still stand to receive certain monies payable to Messi not only for his image rights as the Catalan poster boy , but also the lucrative sponsorship deals for this mucho moola magnet.
    There is talk that Messi Sr will be the new Minister of Finance , seeing that he has such business acumen in earning and accruing millions ( if not billions )on behalf of his son.

    There is also talk that at the stroke of midnight he will also be made a living saint , the first in history , by his countryman , his reverence , the Pope . The Pope Moblie is already in Barcelona , while the Papal Plane is in readiness on runway ONE at Rome airport , according to reliable Papalrazzos reports .
    This ceremony is to be in the future (if ever ) is to be called a Messification , to differentiate it from the ceremony of beatification , which is the official act of the Pope whereby a deceased person is declared to be enjoying the happiness of heaven, and therefore a proper subject of religious honor and public cult in certain places.

    It all seems in order , and apt , seeing that he is enjoying all the happiness of heaven here on earth , and he in turn has been giving great joy ,happiness and rapture to the millions of faithful . Many already have elevated him to divine status , and it is not unusual to hear in the stadiums , the chant , “GOD , what a player !”

    If you like this post please subscribe , LIKE it and SHARE it on Fakebook .

  • apo Armani

    I was talking about this Messy…sorry meant Messi issue with a childhood friend yesterday.

    We concluded; how can an athlete – idol of so many young and old – who earns sooooo much money, expect to get away with stealing??!!

    He and his father, should look around them, and the flash life they live whilst millions even in the streets of Barcelona are looking for food inside bins!!!

    Had this been any other average Jo family man who owed tax, he would be sent to jail at a drop of a hat. Pricks like these shameless, greedy bastards are what has turned this world into the state its in.

  • apo Armani

    Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and Adidas who endorse such CRIMINALS should really re-visit their policy or share the shame!

  • Pete

    I understand that Messi’s ego is at least the size of Ronaldo’s – just better disguised. Barcelona revolves around him. But we should be grateful – that is one of the reasons we signed Alexis.

  • apo Armani

    October 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Yes you are quite right in that Messi’s ego is not far from that of Ronaldo, however, he has a completely different approach to sharing his wealth or at least a portion of it – and certainly we have not heard/read any cases of him stealing.

    As for your comment about us getting Sanchez because of Messi – absolutely correct.