Football’s Biggest Tax Cheats: from Alexis Sanchez to Cristiano Ronaldo

  • 129 Premier League footballers have joined a certain tax avoidance scheme
  • Cristiano Ronaldo was accused with hiding €14.7m
Football's biggest tax cheaters
Ronaldo was fined for almost 19 million euros

Many footballers argue that they know nothing about money issues. However, you can’t defend with your ignorance when you commit a crime. Footballers from all around the globe have been convicted with tax fraud, and we’ve created a list about the worst cases. Here are football’s biggest tax cheats.

They say that many lottery-winners lose everything they win because you can only handle as much money as you earn. Footballers do earn their huge amount of money themselves, but for that they had to make good decisions regarding crosses and tackles, not business and economy.

They say also ignorance is no defence when you commit a crime. Even if you don’t understand the consequences of your actions, you are judged by them. That’s why it’s hard to feel sorry for those multimillionaire footballers who have been convicted with tax avoidance. We’ve created this list about the worst cases of the last couple of years. Here are football’s biggest tax cheats.

We know about Unibet Sportsbook that they have a huge knowledge in football. That’s why we’ve used some of their odds to illustrate a few things in this article. We wouldn’t create this one without them.

5. The agent of Alexis Sanchez believes he’s innocent

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez received a 1-year prison sentence which has been suspended

The first name in our list of football’s biggest tax cheats is Alexis Sanchez. It was announced yesterday that the Manchester United star received a 1-year prison sentence which has been suspended. The main reason behind the events is that the Spanish state believes that he should have paid €1m more in taxes than he did during his time at Barcelona. Sanchez also had to pay half of this amount to the state.

His agent, Fernando Felicevich was furious. He believes that the Spanish state has been trying to get money out of footballers and using media pressure to make them sign bad deals. He was also talking about the unfair treatment of Messi and Ronaldo – though their cases were slightly different and more serious than Sanchez’s.

“Despite having demonstrated that Alexis has committed no crime, we have been obliged, following the recommendations of our advisers, to accept the unjustified pact offered in order to palliate the emotional, personal and economic cost of long, tedious trials, where the media are used to publicly expose and judge private matters.” – Fernando Felicevich

4. Mourinho tried to hide a few millions from the authorities

Things are never quiet around Jose Mourinho. In a previous article we wrote about what he’s been up to since getting the sack from Manchester United. He’s made a huge TV deal with beIN Sports, but he was also busy with going to court.

Mourinho was accused with using offshore companies in Ireland, the Virgin Islands and New Zealand to hide some of his earnings. It happened in Spain, at the time he was managing Real Madrid, between 2011 and 2012. Authorities found that it was €3.3m that he failed to declare. He will have to pay about €2m in total with a 1-year prison sentence, which has been suspended.

He claims that at the time he left Spain everything seemed fine and thought that his tax situation was legal. Mourinho also claimed that he was cooperating with the authorities through the whole time.  “They told me that to regularise my situation I had to pay X amount. I didn’t answer, I didn’t argue, I paid, I signed the papers with the state that show my conformity and that everything is definitively closed.” – Jose added.

3. Messi paid everything back

Messi avoided prison in the very last minute

Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers in the planet. Online sportsbook sites in the United Kingdom believe that he has a great chance to win his 5th Ballon d’Or award. At the time of writing this article, he’s actually the favorite to win at Unibet Sportsbook. However, even Messi had a tough time over his taxes as well. He was accused with avoiding to pay taxes after his incomes from his image rights. His name also came up at the leak of Panama Papers.

The Court of Catalonia found him and his father guilty in tax fraud. For a while it looked like there’s a real chance for him to end up behind bars. It looks like we keep forgetting how footballers and celebrities can always avoid prison somehow. Though Messi was sentenced to serve almost 2 years, he doesn’t have to spend a minute in prison. According to Spanish law, if you are first offender your sentence is automatically going to be suspended if it’s not longer than 2 years.

Messi and his father did have to pay a relatively high, €3.5m fine though. On a voluntary basis he also paid back the €5m he tried to hide. During his trials, Messi tried to defend with that he didn’t read or understood the documents he signed. The prosecutors believed that he didn’t even care about those papers, which was irresponsible and didn’t make his situation any better for sure.

2. Ronaldo also claimed he understood nothing of his tax-scandal

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo didn’t understand a word of the accusations

Cristiano Ronaldo is living the highlife. He has a huge mansion worth £4.8m and can’t even count how many cars he owns. However, he’s also become a bit of a scandalous player recently. Besides his rape allegations he also received a huge fine for tax fraud. He was accused with hiding his money through an offshore company called Tollin. By that, he defrauded the Spanish government out of €14.7m.

Ronaldo reportedly told the judges that he doesn’t understand anything about the whole situation. He claimed that he’s only spent 6 years at school in his lifetime, so understanding tax-related issues is not one of his strengths. His advisors told him that everything was fine, and he trusts them under all circumstances. Ronaldo only spent 15 minutes at the court to sign the necessary papers. “It’s done” – he commented on the events briefly to the media.

Ronaldo plead guilty and was fined for almost 19 million euros. That’s an insane amount of money, although since he’s allegedly making about a hundred million euros a year we don’t believe he’s going to starve. He’s also received a 2-year prison sentence that has been suspended.

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1.Football’s biggest tax cheat involves not less than 120 Premier League players

While we thought that these kind of scandals are limited to La Liga, it turns out that Premier League players have their tricks as well. Daily Mail revealed in April 2018 that 129 footballers who are/were playing in England have joined a certain tax avoidance scheme. These players together will face a £250 million bill, which makes this case football’s biggest tax cheat in our list.

Football stars were basically investing in film projects as a part of this scheme. Mostly they’ve used their own cash, but in some cases they’ve also used money from bank loans. The exact identities of the ones involved weren’t revealed, but according to papers it mostly concerns players from Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers. The biggest “investor” was someone from the Old Trafford with £33.5 million.

Though the case has just been leaked, it’s probably not a recent one. One of the films Premier League stars invested in was Enchanted by Disney, so the thing’s been going on at least for 15 years now. XPro, an organization that helps footballers handle their money issues, already made comments on the issue. By now, it’s easy to guess what they said. “None of them (the players) knowingly embarked on a plan to pay less tax.”

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