Barcelona's Argentina forward Lionel Messi and his father denied wrongdoing on Wednesday (June 12) after the Spanish tax authorities accused them of defrauding the state of more than four million euros (£3.4 million).
The World Player of the Year and his father Jorge allegedly filed fraudulent tax returns for the years 2006 to 2009, according to an official for the prosecutor's office for tax crimes in Catalonia.
"We learned about the action begun by the Spanish prosecutor through the media,"Messi wrote in a statement on his official Facebook page.
"It is something that surprises us because we have never committed any offence," the statement added.
"We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations following the advice of our tax consultants, who will take care of clarifying this situation."
Via a complex web of shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, income from the sale of Messi's image rights was effectively hidden from the Spanish authorities, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
On top of his Barca wages, Messi pulls in about $21 million (£13.4 million) in endorsements from sponsors including Adidas, PepsiCo and P&G and is 10th on Forbes' latest list of top-earning athletes.
Presented by Adam Justice