Samuel Eto’o has been given a 22-month suspended prison sentence for tax fraud of £3.32million.
According to Sport, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker admitted the offence but alleges that he was a victim of manipulation by his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles.
The fraud relates to Eto’o failing to declare income derived from the transfer of image rights to Puma and Barcelona in his personal income tax return between 2006 and 2009.
Instead, he taxed the image rights through two companies – one in Hungary and one Spain – so he was not taxed as heavily.
In a statement, the 41-year-old said he would repay all of the money but sought to put responsibility on Mesalles, who he viewed as a father at the time of the offences.
‘It was my father who took care of the child I was then,’ Eto’o said. ‘I’m going to pay but I’ve always done what my father told me I had to do.’
Eto’o was 25 years old at the start of the offences and was midway through his spell at the Nou Camp.
Sport report that the prosecution asked for sentences of four years and six months for Eto’o and Mesalles, before the former was given 22 months and the latter one year. As neither have previous criminal records, they will not serve time in prison.
It is added that the former Cameroon international will pay an additional sum of £1.56million in fines and Mesalles will pay £776,000.