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Samuel Eto’o Handed 22-Month Suspended Prison Sentence

Current President of Cameroon Football Federation and Barcelona Legend Samuel Eto’o has been handed a 22-month suspended prison sentence in Spain after pleading guilty to tax fraud.

The former Barcelona striker, 41, has admitted defrauding the Spanish treasury of €3,872,621 (£3,329,428) between 2006 and 2009 during his time at the Nou Camp.

Eto’o failed to declare income from the transfer of his image rights between Puma and Barcelona.

Instead, he taxed the image rights through two separate companies set up in Hungary and Spain which limited his costs, according to Spanish publication Sport.

Eto’o blamed his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles, who has also been given a one-year suspended prison sentence, for the tax evasion.

In a statement in court, Eto’o referred to Mesalles as a father figure, without directly naming him.

“It was my father who took care of the child I was then,” Eto’o said.

“I’m going to pay but I’ve always done what my father told me I had to do.”

Eto’o has partially repaid the tax he owes and has been ordered to pay a further £1.5m in fines.

The prison sentences handed to Eto’o and Mesalles have both been suspended as neither of the men has previous criminal convictions in Spain.

He played for Barcelona between 2004 and 2009, scoring 130 goals in 199 games for the Catalan club.

The Cameroon international won the Champions League twice and La Liga three times with Barcelona before leaving for Inter Milan in 2009.

In total, he scored 371 goals in 764 club appearances over the course of his career as well as 56 goals in 118 international caps, winning African Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005. He was elected President of FECAFOOT just before the last Nations cup hosted by Cameroon with Senegal emerging Champions after beating Egypt in the final.

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