At this point, it’s probably easier to name the futboleros not under investigation for tax evasion in Spain than it is to name the ones that are. Following the lead of such stars as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar, a handful of Latinos who plied their craft in La Liga are now under fire from Spanish tax authorities for possible evasion: Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez, Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis, and former Atletico teammates Diego Costa–now at Chelsea–and Jackson Martinez–now at Guangzhou Evergrande in China.
The one commonality in all of their cases is Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes, who is widely considered one of the most powerful people in world soccer. He’s also been implicated by proxy in the majority of the high-profile cases that have bubbled over this year, such as Ronaldo (who is being accused of evading over $16 million in taxes on his image rights), Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, and Colombian striker Radamel Falcao. At some point, authorities will have to start looking at Mendes’ procedures upon setting up his clients’ rights management.
In the meantime, however, Costa, James, Luis, and Martinéz haven’t been charged with a crime just yet, but the Spanish courts have been noticeably aggressive in both prosecuting and convicting soccer players in recent years. While most get suspended sentences–in Spain, any jail sentence for a non-violent crime that is under 2 years can be suspended–the ding to the player’s reputation–and to their wallet, as most pay large fines–can’t be understated.