Tax fraud: Alonso faces prison

Spanish prosecutors have called for Xabi Alonso to be sentenced to five years in prison after the former Real Madrid and Liverpool midfielder was accused of tax fraud.

Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso

The Madrid prosecution office announced yesterday it was seeking the sentence for an alleged fraud of two million euros between 2010 and 2012.It is claimed Alonso used a company based on the Portugese island of Madeira to avoid declaring income earned from the 36-year-old’s image rights.

As well as the five-year imprisonment, a fine of four million euros is held against Alonso, his tax advisor Ivan Zaldua and the manager of the Portuguese company, Ignasi Maestre.

The prosecution also demands the return of the sum denied to the Spanish tax office, in addition to any interest gained.

The Madrid court in charge of the investigation reopended the case at the end of 2017 after the judges on appeal found the facts alleged against Alonso were “sufficiently substantiated”.

Alonso, who retired last year, is not the first high-profile footballer to have faced problems over Spanish tax in recent years.

Some have admitted fraud in exchange for a sentence to avoid jail, like Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez, former Barcelona midfielder, Javier Mascherano and Real Madrid defender, Marcelo.Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was sentenced to a fine of €2.1 million for tax evasion and a sentence of 21 months in prison, subsequently issued as a fine.

Real Madrid striker, Cristiano Ronaldo is also charged with alleged fraud of €14.7 million, which he denies.

Meanwhile, Diego Costa has told teammate Antoine Griezmann he is best off staying at Atletico Madrid. Griezmann has scored 23 goals in 38 appearances for Atletico this season and said yesterday he wants his future sorted before the start of this year’s World Cup.

The French forward told L´Equipe he hopes “to travel to Russia without concern” after Barcelona were forced in January to deny they had already struck a deal to sign the player. Manchester United were also credited with a strong interest last summer.

Costa, however, who left Atletico for Chelsea in 2014 only to return to the Spanish club earlier this season, believes his current strike partner should stay put.

“He knows that we want him, that he is a very important player. He is still with us and he has not told me he is going yet,” Costa said yesterday.

“I would be happy for him to stay, everyone has to look for the best for themselves but, in my opinion, the best for him is to stay.”

Costa added, with a smile: “He called me every day to tell me to return to Atletico and now he’s not going to leave me. That cannot be, he is going to stay.”

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui appears to have put his faith in Costa to be the team’s leading striker this summer.

A strong run of form for Atletico, alongside Griezmann, has included three goals in Costa’s last seven appearances while Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata, his chief rival, has been left out of Spain’s latest squad.

It marks a stark contrast to the start of the season when Costa, sidelined by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, was left killing time in Brazil, and Morata began his Premier League career with eight goals in as many games. “It is very clear that it was not my fault that I was in Brazil. We all know what happened there but I’m back now and I want to do my best,” Costa said.

“The (Spain) coach was always very clear with me that if I was not playing then it would be impossible for me to be called up. But he also said that if I was playing well then the door would be open to me and I’m grateful to him for that.”

On Morata’s omission, Costa added: “I miss Morata because we get on well. Competition is always good. Morata has been having a bad time there (at Chelsea) but he is back now scoring goals and I hope he comes back with us and we can play together.”

Spain play Germany in Dusseldorf tomorrow before hosting Argentina in a second friendly in Madrid on Tuesday.— Supersport.