MADRID - Professional soccer player Lionel Messi has lost his Supreme Court appeal of a tax-fraud conviction in Spain.
The court confirmed the 21-month prison sentence handed to Messi for defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) in 2007-09. He is not expected to go to prison because sentences of less than two years for first offenses are usually suspended in Spain.
The court maintained the 2 million-euro ($2.24 million) fine handed to the Argentina player in last year's trial.
Messi's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, also was convicted of tax fraud, but the court reduced his sentence from 21 months to 15 months because he cooperated by returning the defrauded money to the tax authorities. He also is not expected to face prison time.
FC Barcelona, the club for which Messi plays, said it was fully behind the player and his family.
"The club reiterates, once again, its full support for Leo Messi, his father Jorge Messi, and his family,'' Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives said in a statement. "Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu contacted the player's family to communicate this support. The family was very grateful, not only for today's gesture, but also for the support the player and his family have received from the club throughout this process. The club will continue to stand with Leo Messi, his father and his family.''