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Barcelona's Lionel Messi backed by AFA over 'Panama Papers' reports

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has backed Lionel Messi after the Barcelona star was named in reporting of the "Panama Papers" leaks concerning offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous.

Spain's El Confidencial digital publication reported as part of the release of leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm that the Messi family is being accused of setting up a tax fraud network by using Panamanian company Mega Star Enterprises to avoid paying tax on image rights deals.

On Tuesday, Jorge Messi, Lionel's father, denied the family's involvement in tax evasion projects and said the family is planning to sue El Confidencial for defamation.

The AFA said in a statement: "Regarding the international scandal of the 'Panama Papers' affair, the president of the Asociacion del Futbol Argentino, Luis Segura, feels the obligation to show his unlimited support for Lionel Messi, captain and symbol of the national team.

"He does this, furthermore, in agreement with all the leaders and members of the Argentine football community. In this house there is trust in the honour of the Messi family and support for his declaration of innocence."

In a separate case, the Barcelona court has moved the date of the Messi tax fraud trial from May 31 to June 7 at the request of the lawyers, according to Spanish daily El Mundo.

The change of date could mean that the Argentina star might miss a date in the first week of Copa America Centenario play.

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