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Lionel Messi tax fraud trial in Spain set to start in May

Lionel Messi tax fraud trial in Spain set to start in May

MADRID: Lionel Messi’s tax fraud trial in Spain has been set for May 31-June 3, conflicting with the start of the centennial Copa America in the United States.

The Copa America Centenario will kick off on June 3, meaning the five-time world player of the year may not make it in time for Argentina’s opening game.

The full Copa America schedule won’t be known until the draw on Feb. 21, but Messi’s lawyers are expected to try to change the trial dates.

The Barcelona forward is already expected to have a shorter preparation ahead of the tournament if his side reaches the Champions League final, which is scheduled for May 28 in Milan.

Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud and could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty.

They are accused of defrauding Spain’s tax office of €4.1 million ($4.4m) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09.