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Sports

Diego Costa gets €540,000 tax fraud fine, avoids jail time

The 31-year-old, who plays for Atletico Madrid in La Liga, pleaded guilty in Madrid court on Thursday to evading €1.1 million in taxes on his image rights.

04 Jun 2020

Spanish forward Diego Costa has been sentenced a six-month imprisonment and handed €543,208 fine for tax fraud, however, the striker avoids jail terms as per Spanish law.

The 31-year-old, who plays for Atletico Madrid in La Liga, pleaded guilty in Madrid court on Thursday to evading €1.1 million in taxes on his image rights.

The footballer faced charges related to his 2014 transfer from Chelsea, where he reportedly used complex set of deals assigning his image rights to a series of foreign companies.

Costa paid tax authorities the outstanding amount in full last year and will pay the €543,208 penalty on top of that.

His prison sentence has been replaced by an additional fine, as is customary in Spain for jail terms of under two years.

"Diego Costa reached an agreement a few months ago with the prosecutor and has already paid the corresponding fine plus interest and the request for a prison sentence was withdrawn," an Atletico spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.

"This week it is expected that an agreement will be ratified in court, as is mandatory."

The striker is the latest player to fall foul of Spanish authorities over tax evasion on image rights, with a number of high-profile cases in recent years.

This is not the first time that footballer paid an additional fine to replace their prison sentences, in January 2019, Cristiano Ronaldo agreed to hand over a total of €18.8m in fines and taxes and was given a 23-month sentence, substituted for another €365,000 payment.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi was given a €2m fine and a 21-month jail term — later replaced by an additional €500,000 — in 2017.