Barcelona News: Lionel Messi could be banned to face English sides in the Champions League in the event that the nation goes through with Brexit.
Lionel Messi was phenomenal for Barcelona last season and helped them clinch their second consecutive La Liga title. He was equally brilliant for the Blaugrana in the Champions League, where he scored 12 goals to fire them to the Semi-finals.
In the last 6 seasons, Barcelona have won the Champions League only once and have faced tough competition from the likes of Juventus and Bayern Munich. Domestically they have dominated Real Madrid. However, the team from the Spanish Capital have won Europe’s most prestigious trophy 4 times in the same period.
Barcelona’s pursuit of the Champions League title continues. However, English teams such as Liverpool and Manchester City have now thrown their hats in the mix. In fact, it was Liverpool who eliminated Barcelona from a contest they were deemed favourites to win.
This time though, should Barcelona draw an English side, they may have to go ahead with business without the services of their talisman Lionel Messi.
How the Brexit could affect Barcelona’s chances in the Champions league
Lionel Messi’s conviction of Tax Fraud saw him receive a 21-month suspended prison sentence by the Spanish courts. His dual Spanish-Argentine passport. However, allows him to travel anywhere in Europe so long as he isn’t deemed a threat to the national security of the country in question.
However, if the UK leaves the EU in the event of Brexit, Lionel Messi’s prison sentence will hinder his movement to the UK thereby making him unavailable for Barcelona if they were to have a rematch with Liverpool or face any English side this season.
Immigration lawyer Andrew Osbourne of firm Lewis Silkin explained the scenario in an interview with the Athletic:
‘There is a specific point around European games. If you are an EU citizen with a criminal conviction, you can travel to the UK; as long as you are not deemed to be a threat to national security.
‘If you are not an EU citizen and have a conviction or prison sentence imposed, even if suspended ; you are banned from coming to the UK.
‘There are a number of very famous footballers with convictions and suspended sentences for tax evasion. They, thus far, have not had to worry as they have EU passports.
‘But post-Brexit, they potentially may not be able to enter the country (as they will be treated like non-EU nationals).
‘Anyone with a prison sentence of any sort, the starting point is you are not allowed in.
‘This could provide disruption to Champions League squads and also whether they (UEFA) will play finals in England if players potentially may not be able to come in.
‘Clubs will need to take steps.’
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