Spanish economist Luis Garicano has bemoaned the regularity of tax fraud in football, and claimed that one of the culprits, Lionel Messi, would “be in jail” if he were in the US.
Messi was given a 21 month sentence for tax evasion back in July, although Spanish law meant that a prison sentence was highly unlikely.
The five time Ballon d’Or winner was also ordered to pay around £1.7m, but Garicano seemed to be of the opinion that more effective punishment is needed to deter other footballers from doing the same.
“In the world of football we’ve found there is a huge fraud situation and [in Spain] we no-one ends up in prison,” he said in an interview with El Espanol.
“In the US, Messi would be in jail right now. In Spain it is practically impossible to end up in jail for a tax offence. In the end, having effective sanctions is very important for ensuring compliance with the law.”
Garicano chose not to mention any other La Liga players with accusations of similar activity, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo who was recently alleged to have diverted at least €150m to a tax haven to hide income from image rights.
Ronaldo, and his former Real Mardrid manager Jose Mourinho, are under investigation for previous tax declarations.