Sanchez escapes prison for tax fraud

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Manchester United attacker Alexis Sanchez has received a 16-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to tax evasion whilst playing for Barcelona between 2012 and 2013.

He was sentenced to two eight-month suspended jail sentences to run consecutively, although prosecutors have called for the sentence to be lifted after two years if he does not re-offend.

Other players investigated in Spain include Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Marcelo, Ricardo Carvalho, Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano, Radamel Falcao and Fabio Coentrao.

Sanchez, who joined United from Arsenal last month, faced being tried over the fraud of 983,000 euros ($1.21 million) linked to image rights during his time at Spanish giants Barcelona, according to details of the deal seen by AFP.

But far from admitting the agreement is a demonstration of Sanchez's guilt, his agent publicly said what some tax specialists and lawyers have said privately, attacking the state and inland revenue for pursuing players with "unfair" charges they have little choice but to accept as a means of avoiding worse problems.

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The ex-Arsenal star is the latest football figure to be punished by Spanish prosecutors for an apparent dodging of taxes.

He labelled the deal unjust, claiming some foreigners were being exposed to "media and political pressure".

"Spanish prosecutors and its Treasury Department have placed more than 30 professional footballers in the same situation, accusing them of the same crimes and threatening them with prison sentences".

Felicevich insisted the "alleged crimes" were practices used over a long period of time by many players and previously accepted by the Spanish taxman.

Felicevich pointed out that the accused are "of course nearly all foreigners" and that, in this case, Sanchez's team had come to the conclusion that "it is better to accept an unfair agreement".

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