La Liga club Barcelona have given their backing to forward Lionel Messi as he faces the prospect of standing trial alongside his father over tax fraud allegations.
It was widely reported in the Spanish media on Thursday that the 28-year-old, under investigation along with father Jorge over alleged fraud dating back to a period of time between 2007 and 2009, is set to stand trial after the state attorney overruled the advice of prosecutors.
Previously, it seemed as though the Argentina international would avoid a trial on the basis that father Jorge had full control of his affairs.
Messi's management company hit out at the decision initially and argued that his defence would, over the coming weeks, "prove that the prosecutor's position in not accusing Lionel Messi is correct".
And later on Thursday, Barca released a statement in which they offered the four-time Ballon d'Or winner their full support and backing.
"The club finds strange the difference of judgment between the Fiscal Ministry, who decided not to accuse Messi, and the opinion of the State Attorney, who said just the opposite," read the statement.
"FC Barcelona has sent its affection and solidarity to Leo Messi and his family in this unusual situation. The club will continue giving full support and assistance on legal, fiscal and administrative levels to the family during this process.
"FC Barcelona denounces the accumulation of external decisions that began long ago and that are outside the sport itself as totally unacceptable. This affects the club, its stability and its players.
"The club will continue to work more firmly than ever to defend its legitimate rights and be prepared for the new challenges that may come."
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