Javier Mascherano accepts one-year jail term in plea bargain

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano accepted a one-year prison sentence for tax evasion on Thursday as part of a plea bargain, Spanish media reported, although he is unlikely to serve time in jail.
The 31-year-old Argentina international, who joined Barca in August 2010, pleaded guilty last year to defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than 1.5 million euros (£1.15m) by concealing earnings from his image rights by using companies set up in the United States and Portugal.
During a brief appearance in court on Thursday, he agreed to pay an 800,000 euro (£612,000) fine and cover the legal costs, the newspaper El Pais reported. Sentences shorter than two years are not usually enforced in Spain.
Mascherano also paid back the unpaid tax plus almost 200,000 euros (£153,000) in interest.
In a tweet, Mascherano acknowledged the plea bargain, and said he reserved the right to take legal action against those who had given him poor advice on his personal finances.
“I’m a sporting professional, I don’t have a great understanding of tax and legal matters,” the Argentine international said in his statement.
“Therefore, to deal with what are for me technical and complicated matters, I have to rely on other people.
“Throughout all my career I have been an honest person, responsible and respectful of my team-mates and the clubs that I have played for and the countries I have lived in.
”I reserve the possibility of action against those who have badly advised me by recommending something that was not right.”
Mascherano’s Barcelona and Argentina team mate Lionel Messi, FIFA’s world footballer of the year, is due to appear in court with his father at the end of May to answer charges of tax fraud.

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