Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano hit with tax fraud charges
Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano faces tax fraud charges after Spain's authorities filed a complaint against him.
The Superior Court of Justice in Cataluna confirmed to PA Sport on Tuesday morning that the Argentina international faces counts of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities.
However, a Spanish judge has yet to rule on whether or not the 31-year-old Mascherano's case will go to trial.
The South American is alleged to have concealed earnings related to his image rights in 2011 and 2012 worth 1.5million euros by using companies set up in the United States and in Portugal.
Spain's tax law allows a player to sell up to 15 per cent of his image rights to a company.
However, the country's tax authorities claim Mascherano did not pay taxes on those earnings despite having already become a Spanish resident.
Mascherano, who has not spoken publicly on the matter, has reportedly paid this month the money owed as well as 200,000 euros in interest.
The South American is not the only Barca player to be facing tax evasion charges.
Mascherano's Argentinian compatriot Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi are to stand trial for tax fraud.
The two are accused of not paying £3.4million in tax on earnings from the player's image rights between 2007 and 2009.
Messi and his father, who is also his agent, have denied any wrongdoing.