Soccer

Ex-Chelsea ace Samuel Eto’o spared jail after admitting £3.3m tax fraud

Former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o was handed a 22-month suspended prison sentence in Spain after pleading guilty to tax fraud.

The Cameroon legend and former Barcelona striker, 41, admitted to defrauding the Spanish treasury of £3.3million between 2006 and 2009 while playing for the Catalan club. The former striker did not declare the income he received from the transfer of his image rights between Puma and the La Liga giants, rather he taxed the image rights through two separate companies, one in Hungary and the other in Spain, allowing him to save money, reports Spanish publication Sport.

Eto'o has blamed his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles, punished with a one-year suspended prison sentence, for the tax evasion, referring to him 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."

It is reported the four-time African Player of the Year has partially repaid the tax he owes – but he has been ordered to pay a further £1.5million in fines for the evasion.

The court handed down prison sentences to Eto'o and Mesalles which were suspended – meaning they will serve no time in custody unless they breach the court's orders or break the law during the period -as the pair do not have any previous convictions.

Eto'o is considered one of the greatest strikers to ever play the game. In his heyday, he featured for Barcelona between 2004 and 2009. In which time he scored 130 goals in 199 games and earned the Champions League trophy twice and the La Liga three times.

He departed the club for Inter Milan in 2009, where he again won the Champions League as part of José Mourinho's all conquering side, which won the treble. In total, he scored 371 goals in 764 club appearances – netting 56 goals in 118 international caps.

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