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Prosecutor 'to drop Messi tax case'

A Spanish judge has accepted Lionel Messi should not be personally prosecuted for having broken tax laws, but a case against his father Jorge is reportedly set to continue.

Spain's tax authorities have accused the Messis of not paying four million euros due in relation to "image rights" income earned from 2007-09. The Barcelona player appeared in court in September 2013, when he said in evidence that his father looked after all his financial affairs, and he knew nothing about how income was handled or taxes paid.

On Tuesday Messi's public relations firm said it had been accepted that the 26-year-old no longer had a case to answer. Their statement said the judge acknowledged that "the player was unaware and on the margin of the financial and business structure that his financial advisers had created to manage his income and obligatory fiscal payments."

However El Pais said on Wednesday morning that this did not mean the entire issue had been resolved -- and the tax authorities were still pushing the judge to continue the case against Jorge Messi, as they say he was involved in implementing a complex plan involving tax havens designed to defraud the Spanish state.

Before September's hearing took place the Messi family had already handed over a total of five million euros in extra payments to cover money due for the period in question - including taxes which were not paid initially, plus 'reparations'. In summer 2013 the Messi family paid 10 million euros in taxes due on such "image rights" income for the years 2010 and 2011.

The continuing issues come as Messi Jr. is captaining Argentina at the current World Cup -- and he scored a superb individual goal in his country's 2-1 opening game win over Bosnia on Sunday.

The Messi family's build-up to the tournament was also disrupted by further reports in the Madrid press that the Spanish police have requested a look at the accounts from 'Messi & Friends' exhibition games played during recent summers, to determine whether all taxes had been paid in full on the proceeds. Messi Sr. said in early June that he found it "strange" that such unsettling reports had arise again just before his son faced another big on-pitch test.

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