Former Cameroon forward Samuel Eto’o has pleaded guilty to a £3.2m tax fraud relating to his image rights while playing for Barcelona.
The four-time African footballer of the year was given a 22-month suspended prison sentence when he appeared at court in Spain on Monday.
He must repay the money he owes, along with a fine of £1.55m.
Prosecutors accused Eto’o of failing to declare income from the transfer of image rights between 2006 and 2009.
Eto’o is the latest in a long list of foreign players and managers to have been prosecuted for tax fraud in Spain in recent years, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Jose Mourinho and Neymar.
The 41-year-old, now the president of the Cameroonian football federation, joined Barcelona in 2004, age 23. He also played for Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Everton during his career, before retiring in 2019.
He appeared at the Ciudad de la Justicia court in Barcelona with his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles, who was given a 12 month suspended sentence and a fine.
The court heard that Eto’o transferred his image rights to a company based in Hungary which declared his earnings in that country, where the tax rate is one of the “lowest in Europe”.
Eto’o told the court:
I admit the facts and I am going to pay what I’m due, but let it be known that I was a just a child then and that I always did what my former agent Jose Maria Mesalles, who I considered like a father, asked me to do at that time.