Football: Messi's tax hearing put back 10 days

MADRID (REUTERS) - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and his father will appear in court to answer charges of tax evasion on Sept 27 after a hearing scheduled for next week was postponed, a court statement said on Tuesday.

Football's World Player of the Year and his father Jorge Messi, who both denied wrongdoing, allegedly hid more than four million euros (S$6.74 million) by filing incomplete returns for the years 2006 to 2009.

They have already made a "corrective payment" to the Spanish authorities of just over five million euros.

A lawyer for the Argentinian pair asked for a Sept 17 hearing to be postponed as he had another commitment that day.

Jorge Messi will now appear at the court in Gava near Barcelona at 10am local time (4pm in Singapore) 10 days later with Lionel due an hour later.

According to the prosecutor's office for tax crimes in Catalonia, income from the sale of Messi's image rights was hidden using a complex web of shell companies in Uruguay,

Belize, Switzerland and Britain.

He has been resident in Barcelona since joining the club's academy in 2000 and he gained Spanish citizenship five years later.

"I never take care of that (tax) stuff myself and neither does my father," Messi, 26, said in July. "We have our lawyers and our wealth managers to take care of that and we trust them and they will sort this out.

"The truth is I don't have a clue about all this and that is why we have people taking care of it."