With the FIFA World Cup catching the attention of most people in the world, we’ve decided to look back at the big names in the sport that have been caught up with tax fraud claims. In 2013 the biggest name in football, Lionel Messi had to defend himself against fraud accusations made against him.
Over the years, Uli Hoeness, former president of 2013 Champions League winners, Bayern Munich had admitted to tax fraud. We remember the footballers and their managers that struggle to pay their taxes for one reason or another and those that battled to claims and won.
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Redknapp & Mandaric
One of the major stories that came out from the football world in 2012 involved then Tottenham Hot Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. He and current Sheffield Wednesday owner Milan Mandaric were accused of tax fraud and were taken to court where both were acquitted unanimously. The case that the prosecution had was in light of the evaded tax payments totalling £189,000 that the two had in off shore account.
The pair pleaded not guilty throughout the three week trial and was insistent that the amount of money was not related to Harry Redknapp’s job but, instead was a gesture between friends. After the verdict was given, the Redknapp was adamant that the case should have never gone to trial. Some are lead to believe that this court case damaged Harry’s chances of becoming the next England manager, with the FA turning to Roy Hodgson (current England manager) to lead the national team into the 2012 European Championships.
On the pitch he’s considered a God, a man that could do no wrong and produces moments of magic that have brought a large proportion of the football community to hail him as the best of all time. Lionel Messi isn’t one to be caught up in scandal on the pitch or off it. So, in June 2013 when the story came out that he and his father were being investigated for tax fraud the shock was felt throughout. From the moment the investigation began, Messi’s pleaded his innocence of the claims that he defrauded the tax office of income that was related to his image rights from 2006-2009.
In September, Messi and his father paid the outstanding amount that was owed in taxes, the sum of â‚¬5 million (£3.9 million). Had the pair been found guilty of tax fraud, the world’s best footballer could have been sent to prison for 4 years.
Messi plays for Barcelona FC and this year the club itself was in the middle of a legal battle regarding the transfer of Brazilian superstar Neymar. Little Messi probably got his financial advice from the club, who are now threatened with a transfer embargo.
“I don’t understand taxes” There’s a nice quote from the star man himself about his knowledge of taxes. Not to worry Leo, just stick to kicking the ball in the net. There’s a good lad.
Little Messi’s tax woes still plague him at even in 2015 as his case goes on in Spain, with rumours flying in the transfer mill that it could be one reaason to see the Argentine leave Camp Nou this summer.
Over to Germany now and FC Bayern’s former President Uli Hoeness had in admitted to tax fraud to the amount of 18m euros (£15m; $25m). On the pitch, the fans were experiencing a rich vein of form with Head Coach Pep Guardiola leading the team to eventually finish with an 18 point clear lead by the end of the Bundesliga.
In March, Hoeness admitted to committing tax fraud when he was initially investigated for a lower sum believed to be near 3.5 million euros. For this amount the prosecutors were looking to have Hoeness pay back that sum of unpaid taxes and for him to serve some jail time. The 62 year old, former World Cup winning German international footballer spoke on the tax fraud saying that he deeply regretted “my wrongdoings”
“I will do everything necessary to ensure that this depressing chapter for me is closed,” continued the 1972 European Championship winner.
The figure of 3.5 million euros of unpaid tax is for the 33 million euros of income that Germany’s “Mr. Football” failed to claim and his lawyer admitted that the figure for the unpaid taxes could be far higher. In Germany, Hoeness is considered a big name, not just in footballing circles but he is frequently seen mingling with personalities in the political world. Chancellor Merkel was enjoying a lunch with the former President of Bayern Munich when he received the phone call informing him of the investigation.
It was found that the unclaimed income was being deposited in a secret Swiss bank account and the penalty for tax evasion in Germany is up to 10 years in prison. Hoeness was sentenced to three and half years in prison.
Bayern Munich players came out throughout the trial in Hoeness’ support with French winger Franck Ribery saying, “You can’t envisage Bayern without Hoeness. We need him.”