Prison sentence lifted

MADRID – A Spanish court said on Saturday it has exchanged a 21-month prison sentence handed to soccer player Lionel Messi for tax fraud last July for a quarter-of-a-million-euro fine.

The Barcelona player and his father were found guilty by a Catalan court last year of three counts of tax fraud to the tune of 4.1 million euros ($F 9.5m) over income earned from image rights.

The father also had his 15-month sentence exchanged for a fine of 180,000 euros, the court said.

Neither Messi or his father would have served time in jail following the original ruling as defendants without a previous conviction are permitted to serve any sentence of under two years on probation.

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