Spain stunned by Lionel Messi tax avoidance claims

Madrid-based daily El Mundo said the claim "smears his image" and if proven would be "extraordinarily serious" and should be doubly condemned because of the 25-year-old's high income.

updated: June 13, 2013 14:49 IST
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Madrid: Lionel Messi's spotless image as the world's greatest footballer and a humble man has taken a stunning blow with accusations that he cheated on his taxes, the Spanish media said on Thursday.

Newspapers reacted with shock to news that the Barcelona star and Argentina international has been accused of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than four million euros ($5 million, £3.4 million).

"A symbol under suspicion," blared the front page of the country's biggest sports daily, Marca, saying in an editorial that he had cast doubt on his image as an exemplary sportsman.

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