Lionel Messi received a frosty reception as he arrived at court today.
The Argentine gave evidence at his trial for tax evasion at a Barcelona court.
Messi and his father Jorge stand accused of defrauding Spanish tax authorities of £3.2 million.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250-word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
And as he made his way out of a car and up the steps, the 28-year-old superstar was heckled by observes.
“Piss off and play in Panama, you b******,” Goal quote one crowd member as shouting.
The Mirror claim another urged him to “give the money back.”
Watch the footage below.
Three counts of tax fraud
Messi and his father are facing three counts of tax fraud, dating between 2007 and 2009. Authorities claim that tax havens in Belize and Uruguay were used to conceal earnings made from image rights.
According to the Mirror, the public prosecutor is only pursuing Jorge, despite tax authorities wanting both to serve nearly two years in jail.
Both deny any wrongdoing, with Messi claiming in court: “I was playing football, I knew nothing,” per the BBC.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who celebrated winning the La Liga title with Barcelona last month, admitted to signing documents without reading them because he trusted his advisers.
“I only worried about playing football,” he told the judge.
It’s very unlikely that Messi will receive a custodial sentence. His Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano avoided prison despite being handed a jail sentence for tax evasion - for which he pleaded guilty - after paying a fine.
Busy summer ahead
The case has disrupted his preparation for the upcoming Copa America, which begins on Friday in the United States.
The games just keep coming for Messi, who will also take part in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers in September, October and November.
It was rumoured that he would even take part in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but Argentina coach Gerardo Martino admitted that competing in the Games, which Argentina’s football team won in 2008, would put “too much” toll on Messi’s body.
"To expose Leo to playing a new competition, after all he has done, seems to me to be too much,” Martino said, per ESPN FC. “We would again be damaging ourselves, considering what is ahead in the second half of the year."