Javier Mascherano admits tax fraud charges

Javier Mascherano arrives in court in Gava, north-east Spain (29 October 2015) Image copyright EPA
Image caption Javier Mascherano arrived in court on Thursday morning to face tax fraud charges

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano has admitted two counts of fraud totalling just over 1.5m euros (£1.1m).

The Argentina defender failed to declare 1.5m euros in earnings in 2011 and 2012, state prosecutors said.

He admitted to the charges in a court appearance in Gava, near Barcelona, lasting less than five minutes.

Mascherano - who has played for Barcelona since 2010 - is the latest high-profile footballer to come under scrutiny from Spanish tax authorities.

He is alleged to have attempted to conceal earnings from his image rights by using companies he owns in Portugal and the US.

A court filing released last month confirmed the player had repaid 1.75m euros - the full amount plus interest - and he may end up paying a fine and avoiding a trial.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The defender was given a two-game ban on Wednesday for insulting a referee

"Mascherano admitted the facts of the two counts of tax fraud, so there was no need to interrogate him," said a judicial source.

The star was handed a two-game ban on Wednesday after he insulted the referee in Barcelona's 3-1 win over Eibar last weekend.

In a separate case, Mascherano's team-mate Lionel Messi is set to stand trial alongside his father for tax fraud totalling 4.16m euros - also relating to image rights.

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