Brand Messi takes revenue hit as EA Sports drops him from FIFA 17 cover

July 11 – Being a convicted tax fraud with a custodial sentence hanging over your head is bad for business, just ask Lionel Messi and his father Jorge. The FIFA, Argentina, and Barcelona golden boy – winner of five Ballon d’Or world player of the year awards – has been dropped from the cover of the upcoming FIFA 17 video game packaging.

Messi was convicted of tax evasion along with his father after having been found to have used companies in Uruguay, Switzerland and Belize to avoid paying taxes on income earned from image rights from 2007-09. The ruling found Messi and his father guilty of defrauding tax authorities of €4.1 million. The court also fined Messi €2 million and his father €1.5 million.

Lionel Messi was given a 21 month custodial sentence, though he is unlikely to serve any jail time as he is a first offender. He has said he will appeal to Spain’s Supreme Court.

This is the first time Messia has not appeared on the cover of the bestselling game by EA Sports since 2012. The highly paid image rights slot will now go to one of Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) or James Rodriguez (Real Madrid).

Fans currently have the opportunity to vote for the “one global FIFA 17 cover star” until July 19 with the release of the new game expected at the end of September.

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