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Samuel Eto’o: Former Cameroon and Barcelona star handed 22-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to £3m tax evasion

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Samuel Eto’o, who represented the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea during his successful playing career, admitted defrauding the Spanish Public Treasury between 2006 and 2009

Former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o has received a 22-month suspended prison sentence by Spanish authorities after pleading guilty to tax evasion.

The 41-year-old admitted defrauding the Spanish Public Treasury of €3.9million (£3.3m) during his time at Barcelona between 2006 and 2009. Eto’o has partially repaid the fee and been ordered to pay a further €1.8m (£1.6m) in fines after pleading guilty.

As reported by Sport, the retired Cameroon international failed to pay tax on the income he received from the transfer of image rights from Puma to Barcelona. He’s accepted his mistake but insists his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles was responsible for the evasion.

Mesalles has also been handed a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay €905,155 (£777,000) in fines for his role in the offence. Eto’o described the representative as a “father” figure in court and protested the evasion was unintentional on his behalf.

The image rights were reportedly taxed through companies in Hungary and Spain to ensure less tax was paid. “I admit the facts and I will pay, but let it be known that I was a child then and that I always did what my father [Mesalles] asked me to do,” said Eto’o.

The ex-striker was around 25 years old when the offence was first committed in 2006 after joining Barcelona from Mallorca two years earlier. Neither Eto’o nor Mesalles will serve time in prison as they do not have previous criminal records.

Samuel Eto'o played for several big clubs during his career - including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea

Samuel Eto’o played for several big clubs during his career – including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea ( Image: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Eto’o is one of the greatest forwards of his generation after enjoying a stellar career. He came through the ranks at Barcelona’s bitter rivals Real Madrid but failed to make the grade in the Spanish capital, failing to score during his seven senior appearances.

Eto’o made a name for himself at Mallorca, scoring 22 goals during the 2003-04 season to persuade Barcelona to bring him to the Camp Nou. He enjoyed five successful seasons in Catalonia, scoring 130 goals in 199 games under Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola.

The prolific star continued to score goals after leaving Barcelona for Inter Milan in the summer of 2009, finding the back of the 53 times in two seasons. Russian Premier League Anzhi Makhachkala went on to make him the world’s highest paid player two years later.

Eto’o failed to bring success to the ambitious Russian outfit but continued to score goals after leaving Anzhi in August 2013. He went on to represent Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC before hanging up in September 2019.

The Cameroonian’s success in front of goal helped him win plenty of trophies – including three La Liga titles, the Serie A title, two Spanish Cups, two Italian Cups, the Club World Cup and four Champions Leagues with three different clubs (Real, Barcelona and Inter).

Eto’o also lifted silverware at the international level. In 2000, he helped Cameroon win the Africa Cup of Nations – defending their crown two years later – and gold at the Olympics. He is his country’s record scorer, finding the back of the net 56 times in 118 senior games.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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