Samuel Eto’o could face a jail sentence of over 10 years, according to respected Spanish newspaper El Pais, which reports that a Spanish prosecutor is pursuing the striker for alleged tax fraud while at Barcelona.
The former Cameroon international striker, 35, who is currently playing for Antalyaspor in Turkey, has been accused of fraud that could amount up to €3.46 million.
Eto’o is alleged to have been accused of failing to declare his sponsorship revenues, including those from a major boot manufacturer, to the authorities when filing his tax returns between 2006 and 2009.
If true, this would mean he avoided paying the top tax rate, which at the time stood at 45 per cent.
There are four charges levelled against him, El Pais claims, which could amount to 10 and a half years behind bars and a fine of €14m.
Additionally, his agent at the time, Josep Maria Mesalles, would also stand trial if the reported prosecution effort is accepted.
Eto’o is not the first star associated with the Camp Nou club to come under scrutiny for his tax returns, with Lionel Messi handed a 21-month suspended prison sentence in July after being found guilty of tax evasion. The Ballon d’Or winner only avoided time behind bars due to his previously clean criminal record.
Currently, Neymar is accused of similar charges, and on Wednesday the prosecutor requested that he be sentenced to two years in jail if he is found guilty.
Like Messi, Neymar is unlikely to find himself in prison, even if the charges against him are found to have substance due to lacking previous convictions.
Eto’o spent five successful seasons at Barca between 2004 and 2009, during which time he scored 129 goals for the club in 201 appearances. He was a key figure for Frank Rijkaard’s men as they claimed the European Cup in 2006, scoring the equaliser in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal, and won African Footballer of the Year twice while at Camp Nou.
After leaving Barca, he won the Champions League at Inter before high-profile moves to Anzhi and Chelsea. Since leaving Stamford Bridge he has turned out for Everton, Sampdoria and current side Antalyaspor.
He has scored three goals in eight outings for the Super Lig strugglers this term but missed their previous fixture against Trabzonspor due to a foot injury.