Messi to appear in court in tax fraud case
June 20, 2013 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Lionel Messi celebrates after matching Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, netting in the 16th minute of Barcelona's match against Real Betis in December 2012. Just nine minutes later the Argentina star passed the German's 1972 milestone.
Messi beats Muller
Time to spare
On the brink of history
Record in doubt
For club and country
- Spanish court rules that Lionel Messi and his father must testify in tax case
- The Barcelona soccer star denies all allegations of wrongdoing
- He is accused by Spanish tax authorities of handing in fraudulent returns
- The Argentine is said to owe $5 million relating to image rights revenue
(CNN) -- Soccer star Lionel Messi must appear in court on September 17 to face possible charges of tax fraud, prosecutors in Spain said Thursday.
The four-time world player of the year and his father Jorge Horacio Messi are suspected of defrauding Spanish tax authorities of more than $5 million between 2006 and 2009. They deny the charges.
A judge will decide after the hearing whether to go ahead with the case, which is being held in a town near Barcelona -- where Messi has lived since moving from his native Argentina as a teenager.
Messi, who turns 26 next Monday, is 10th on the list of the world's highest-paid athletes as compiled by business magazine Forbes with earnings of $41 million.
Read: Neymar pledges to back Messi
Golf's world No. 1 Tiger Woods has reclaimed his position as the world's highest-earning athlete, according to Forbes. The 14-time major winner picked up $13.1 million in salary/winnings in the 12 months to June 1, as well as $65 million from endorsements with companies such as Nike. Woods is thought to be close to resigning with the American sportswear giant.
Tiger tops highest-paid athlete list
Arjen Robben celebrates with his Bayern Munich teammates after their resounding second leg victory over Barcelona in the Nou Camp.
Bayern night of triumph in Nou Camp to reach Champions League final
Real Madrid have usurped Manchester United as the world's most valuable soccer club according to Forbes. The Spanish giants, whose star player is Cristiano Ronaldo, increased their value by 76% over the past year to $3.3 billion.
Real Madrid world's most valuable club
According to the papers filed on June 12 by prosecutor Raquel Amado in Gava, a seaside resort close to Barcelona where Messi lives, it is alleged that they tried to avoid paying taxes in Spain by selling the player's image rights through overseas companies.
His club Barcelona said it was not involved, as the image rights payments are independent of the reported $20 million yearly salary he receives from the Spanish champion team.
Messi used his Facebook website page to deny the charges earlier this month.
"We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities," read the statement in Spanish and English.
Read: Woods tops highest-paid athlete list
"We are surprised about the news, because we have never committed any infringement.
"We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advice of our tax consultants, who will take care of clarifying this situation."
Messi joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old in 2000, and has won six Primera Liga titles, three European Champions League crowns. Last year he scored an unprecedented 86 goals for club and country.
CNN's Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
The dreams of 32 footballing nations can begin at Friday's 2014 World Cup draw. It will be more complicated than most -- so click here for the lowdown.
CNN's Alex Thomas takes a brave punt on the 2014 champion ahead of Friday's World Cup draw.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
Pele has backed Brazil to deliver a "fantastic" World Cup amid growing fears the country will not be ready in time to host football's showpiece event.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)
Adidas unveils official match ball, the Brazuca, and CEO Herbert Hainer discusses the tech behind it.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 2209 GMT (0609 HKT)
Zahir Belounis contemplated suicide as he was stuck in Qatar for two years. But the footballer says it still deserves to host the 2022 World Cup.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
As he celebrates his 40th birthday, just what is the secret to Ryan Giggs' longevity?
Two Belgian "brain coaches" are helping transform AC Milan from big-spender to developer of young talent, says CNN's John Sinnott.
October 22, 2013 -- Updated 1457 GMT (2257 HKT)
Shootings, attempted assassinations and intimidation - welcome to Libyan football in 2013.
October 18, 2013 -- Updated 1129 GMT (1929 HKT)
Zahir Belounis' limbo existence is almost at an end. After a two-year nightmare, he has been told he will finally receive his Qatari exit visa.
October 10, 2013 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
France's multicultural stars shone brightest at the World Cup 15 years ago -- now could it be Belgium's turn to do the same in Brazil next year?
Adnan Januzaj and Diego Costa have highlighted a major dilemma for international football, says CNN's John Sinnott.
CNN's Alex Thomas reports from FIFA HQ after the ruling body delayed its decision on the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
FIFA's credibility rides on finding a solution to the Qatar World Cup controversy, says CNN's Ben Wyatt.
October 2, 2013 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have cost Paris Saint-Germain $30 million, but you can get your own chunk of the Swedish striker for just $41.
Today's five most popular stories