Lionel Messi says he knew nothing about tax fraud

Jorge Messi spoke in court on Thursday as he and his son, Barcelona star Lionel Messi, face charges of tax evasion.

“Since Leo’s career started, I’ve always tried to make his life easy for him. He would play and I would take care of the necessitates,” he said.

The player’s father – who did not want to answer questions relating to the alleged evasion – assured that he’d always left everything in the hands of advisers: “I spoke with Nike because I was the only person who knew the Nike agent, but nothing more. I didn’t know the details of the contracts or the locations of the companies.”

Jorge Messi also added that when Leo signed, 10 years ago, the contract with Adidas, he had to sign it without any idea of what he was signing. “Leo had turned 18 and Adidas said that he had to sign. They didn’t explain anything to us,” he commented in reference to if he or Leo were aware of the details of the companies that were executing the contracts for the footballer’s image rights.

After Jorge Messi, it was Leo’s turn. The Argentine, who was very quiet, also declined to respond to questions about the alleged tax evasion. “I just played football. I trusted in my dad on these things. I didn’t know the companies or anything, this subject has never interested me,” he said.

Asked if he could confirm that he signed the agreements, Messi insisted: “I signed the contracts because I trusted my dad and the lawyers and we had decided that they would take charge of those things. I didn’t read anything or ask anything.”

He also denied sitting down with Angel Juarez, the head of the legal firm the family had retained: “If I saw him twice in my life, that was a lot, I think I saw him once when there was a contract I was required to sign.”

Messi’s words were brief and clear: he was not aware of anything. After his declaration, which took less than 15 minutes, the day in court ended. The case will continue on Friday, although the Barça forward will not be there.

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