Barcelona star Javier Mascherano has been given a one-year prison sentence and been fined €815,000 (£626,000, $883,000) for evading tax in 2011 and 2012. The former Liverpool midfielder, however, has reportedly requested the authorities replace his sentence with a fine of around €21,000, while blaming his former tax advisers over the wrongdoing.
The Argentina international had been accused of failing to declare earnings in 2011 and 2012 properly after ceding image rights to companies he owns in Portugal and the US. Mascherano admitted liability in October 2015 during a declaration in court, saying he had defrauded authorities of around €1.5m in income during that two-year period.
Cadena Ser, in December, revealed that Mascherano had reached a settlement with the prosecution, with the Barcelona star agreeing to pay a fine for the charges and being given a one-year prison sentence.
Mascherano has now made an official statement through his Twitter account to confirm the agreement, blaming his former tax advisers over the incident.
"I don't have a great understanding of taxes and law. To deal with what are, for me, technical and complicated matters, I have to rely on other people," he said.
"Throughout all my career I have been an honest person, responsible and respectful of the clubs that I have played for and the countries I have lived in. After my arrival at Barcelona, I signed up with a prestigious company with an excellent reputation. They made recommendations to me which, I was informed, were procedurally normal, transparent, and accepted by law.
"I was advised by them from 2010 until 2014, when I decided to change companies, because of the legal process that was opened against me. My new advisers recommended to pay the taxes [that were ruled to be outstanding]. Now, finally, and after a bitter wait, we have reached this agreement, which makes me calm about having my financial situation in order once again."
Spanish media, including AS and Sport, claims that Mascherano's lawyer has requested the suspension of the one-year prison sentence, to be replaced with a €21,000 fine. The prosecution is believed to be favourable to this request, but the judge will have the final word. Nevertheless, the 31-year-old star will probably not serve any time in jail, as Spanish law states that non-violent crimes with prison sentences under two years do not require jail time to be served.