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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Judge rules tax fraud case against Messi will go ahead

Sports Shorts: Judge rules tax fraud case against Messi will go ahead

Last updated on: July 28, 2014 20:33 IST

Sports Shorts: Judge rules tax fraud case against Messi will go ahead

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A Spanish court will push ahead with the process of prosecuting Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for alleged tax evasion despite a recommendation from the public prosecutor the charges be dismissed.

The prosecutor argued in June that Messi's father Jorge was responsible for the family's finances and not the four-times World Player of the Year.

However, the court in Barcelona has decided that Lionel Messi could have known about and approved the creation of a web of shell companies that were allegedly used to evade taxes due on income from image rights.

The judge in the case ruled that the case against both Messis should continue, according to a statement published on Monday.

Messi and his father were accused last year of defrauding the Spanish state of more than 4 million euros ($5.4 million) by filing false returns for the years 2006 to 2009. They have denied wrongdoing.

One of the world's highest-paid athletes, Messi earns just over $40 million a season in salary and bonuses, according to Forbes magazine, as well as about $23 million from sponsors.

The magazine has him as the fourth top-earning athlete behind boxer Floyd Mayweather, Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball player LeBron James.

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Image: Lionel Messi
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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Arsenal legend Pires joins Indian Super League

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One of the most celebrated players of the golden generation of French football, Robert Pires, will feature as a marquee figure in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament to be held later this year.

Pires was a member of the 1998 World Cup winning France team as well as an important member of the victorious Euro 2000 squad having played alongside the legendary Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry. One of the most decorated wingers during the late 90's and early part of 2000, Pires has played 79 times for the French national side scoring 14 goals.

Pires in his own right has been an Arsenal legend having represented Arsenal for six years between 2000 and 2006 appearing in 189 matches with 62 goals to his credit. He was a part of the Arsene Wenger coached squad that won three FA Cups and two Premier League titles.

He also played for Spanish side Villareal in the La Liga.

At 40, surely his best days are behind him but will certainly have a towering presence for the junior Indian players, who would benefit from his immense of experience of having played at the highest level.

"I am very happy to be part of the new League when passion for football in India is on the rise. It will be great to play in front of the enthusiastic Indian fans as well as share all my knowledge with my team mates," Pires said.

"I am sure the League will be a huge success and I am delighted to be part of it," he added.

The Indian Super League will feature eight franchise teams from all around India and is scheduled to played between October to December.

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Image: Robert Pires warms up during an Arsenal training session
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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Sports Shorts: Nibali first Italian in 16 years to win Tour de France title

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Tour de France yellow jerseys are usually won high in the mountains or on the time trials, even a mixture of both, but Vincenzo Nibali's triumphant ride to Paris began on unfamiliar terrain -- the cobblestones.

Nibali is the first Italian to win the Tour since the late Pantani in 1998.

In driving rain on the feared cobbles of northern France, cyclists crashed off in stage five in all directions, some, like 2013 champion Chris Froome, terminally.

However, with twice former champion Alberto Contador losing two minutes as he tip-toed around the greasy curves, Nibali calmly rode through the mayhem to seize control of the race and never looked in danger of relinquishing his hold.

When Contador crashed out on a descent during the 10th stage, Nibali's path to glory was clear.

"The cobblestones stage was the most important for the overall victory," Nibali said on the Champs Elysees on Sunday after an emotional rendition of the Italian national anthem.

"I was nervous about that day although I knew I could do something great. My sports director said go out and enjoy it and I said what is there to enjoy, it's pouring with rain?!

"But I rode calmly. I think my mountain bike experience helped on that day as I felt in control of my bike."

With Froome and Contador out, Nibali was a cut above the rest of the field in the mountains and he extended his lead, leaving France's Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot to jostle for the second and third steps of the podium with Spain's Alejandro Valverde.

Some suggested Nibali would not have won with Froome and Contador still there fighting in the mountains, but Nibali said: "I think I would still have done a great race but for sure it would have been harder because they are both great climbers and great leaders.

"But I prepared well for this race and it showed it on the mountain stages. At every mountain finish I was there. I was feeling great.

"Froome and Contador are great champions and I hope I will be able to race against them next year."

- NEXT: Isner retains Atlanta title with defeat of Sela


Image: Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali of Italy celebrates his overall victory on the podium after the 137.5 km final stage of the 2014 Tour de France, from Evry to Paris Champs Elysees on Sunday
Photographs: Jerome Prevost/Pool/Reuters

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Isner retains Atlanta title with defeat of Sela

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Top seed John Isner claimed the Atlanta Open title for the second successive year with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of Israel's Dudi Sela on Sunday.

Towering world No.12 Isner cracked down 15 aces to end the run of the diminutive Sela who was playing his first ATP title for six years.

"This is my favourite time of year," American Isner told reporters.

“I'm off to a very good start again. I look forward to playing WashingtonD.C. again. I've played well there my whole career."

Isner was playing his fourth Atlanta final in five years. He was runner-up to Mardy Fish in 2010 and 2011 and won the title last year by defeating South African Kevin Anderson.

The Atlanta tournament was the first in the U.S. Open series which offers a $1 million bonus at the U.S. Open for the player at the top of the standings.

- NEXT: Liverpool sign Lovren from Southampton


Image: John Isner and Dudi Sela of Israel pose with their trophies after the finals of the BB&T Atlanta Open at Atlantic Station on Sunday
Photographs: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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Liverpool sign defender Lovren from Southampton

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Liverpool's raid on Britain's south coast continued with the capture of Southampton's Croatian defender Dejan Lovren on Sunday for a reported 20 million pounds.

"The 25-year-old Croatian international today put pen to paper on a long-term deal with the Reds after completing his medical," the Premier League club's website (www.liverpoolfc.com) said.

Liverpool, runners-up to Manchester City last season and preparing for a return to the Champions League after an absence of nearly five years, have also signed striker Rickie Lambert and midfielder Adam Lallana from Southampton.

"It's a dream come true. I'm happy and glad to be here. I'm proud and can't wait to start. I know we have millions and millions of supporters -- Liverpool is more than a club," Lovren, whose career began at Dinamo Zagreb, said.

"After I played at Anfield last season, I said to myself: 'One day I hope I'll be able to play here for Liverpool'. The fans will know from the first minute that I'm a player that will give 100 percent on the pitch."

Lovren was part of the Croatia squad for this year's World Cup finals in Brazil and was unluckily adjudged to have tripped Brazil striker Fred to concede a controversial penalty in the opening match when the score was 1-1.

Croatia eventually lost 3-1 and bowed out in the group stage.

Liverpool have been on a spending spree this off-season after they recouped around 81 million euros ($108.77 million) by selling striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona this month.

They reportedly pulled out of signing France striker Loic Remy from promoted Queens Park Rangers earlier on Sunday after a medical exam.

Lovren made 31 appearances for Southampton since signing from French club Olympique Lyon last year.

Southampton's Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana, who will miss the first six weeks of the season with a knee ligament injury, joined Liverpool along with Emre Can of Bayer Leverkusen and Benfica's Lazar Markovic for a combined cost of 59 million pounds.

- NEXT: Arsenal sign Colombia keeper Ospina


Image: Dejan Lovren after being signed by Liverpool on Sunday
Photographs: Liverpool FC/Facebook

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Arsenal sign Colombia keeper Ospina

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Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, who had a fine World Cup to help his country reach the quarter-finals for the first time, is joining Arsenal on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee, the Premier League club said on Sunday.

The 25-year-old, who has 49 caps, is moving from French Ligue 1 club Nice, for whom he made 189 league appearances during his six years in France.

"David Ospina is an excellent goalkeeper, with good experience and a proven record of performing with Nice and Colombia," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told the club's website (www.arsenal.com).

"He will add strength to our squad and we are very pleased that he will be joining us."

Ospina is expected to make his first appearance for Arsenal in the pre-season Emirates Cup tournament involving the English side, AS Monaco, Valencia and Benfica which takes place at the Emirates Stadium in north London next weekend.


Image: Goalkeeper David Ospina of Colombia
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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