Samuel Eto’o has avoided prison after being handed a 22-month suspended sentence for committing tax fraud worth more than £3.3m during his Barcelona career.
Eto’o, 41, failed to declare income from the transfer of image rights between Puma and Barcelona from 2006 and 2009, according to Sport, instead paying taxes via two separate companies set up in Hungary and Spain which limited his costs.
He blamed agent Jose Maria Mesalles for “manipulation” and promised a Spanish court he would pay back the money owed.
In a statement, Eto’o referred to Mesalles, who was handed a one-year suspended sentence, as a father figure. “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.”
On top of the taxes owed, he was ordered to pay around £1.5m in fines.
Eto’o was one of the best strikers of his generation, scoring 371 club goals in 764 appearances as well as 56 goals in 118 international caps. He won three Liga titles for Barcelona and two Champions Leagues, scoring in the 2008-09 final against Manchester United.