Madrid: A Spanish court will push ahead with the process of prosecuting Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for alleged tax evasion despite a recommendation from the public prosecutor the charges be dismissed.
The development comes two weeks after Messi-led Argentina lost to Germany in the World Cup final.
The prosecutor argued in June that Messi’s father Jorge was responsible for the family’s finances and not the four-time World Player of the Year.
However, the court in Barcelona has decided that Messi could have known about and approved the creation of a web of shell companies that were allegedly used to evade taxes due on income from image rights.
The judge in the case ruled that the case against both Messis should continue, according to a statement published on Monday.
Messi and his father were accused last year of defrauding the Spanish state of more than $5.4 million by filing false returns for the years 2006 to 2009. They have denied wrongdoing.
Barcelona, on the other hand, will have their pre-season training camp at St George’s Park in England without Messi and Neymar.
The Catalan giants will have sessions at the state-of-the-art FA complex until Friday.
Newly-appointed Barcelona boss, Luis Enrique, has named a 26-man squad for the trip which features all his Spanish internationals after they returned last week Thursday from their holidays.
New signings Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo and Jeremy Mathieu are also involved, but Messi, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Neymar won’t travel to England.
All of the latter reached the knockout stages of the World Cup and only need to report back to training on August 4. Luis Suarez misses out due to his ban from football.
Barcelona’s next pre-season friendly is on Saturday in France against Nice before they travel to Geneva to face Napoli on Tuesday. Their final pre-season friendlies are against HJK Helsinki and Mexican outfit Club Leon.
Back on Friday, Barcelona, consisting of players both past and present, played against FC Porto at the Do Dragao Stadium (Porto) for a testimonial to one of Europe's most decorated players, Deco.
Messi was there to honour his former colleague by playing the second half. It was a doubly special night for Messi, because it also marked his return to the stadium where he made his Barcelona first team debut in a friendly played on November 16, 2003.