Sanchez reaches deal to avoid prison time in tax fraud case

Huddersfield Town's Florent Hadergjonaj, left, and Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday Feb. 3, 2018. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez, left, and Huddersfield Town's Rajiv van La Parra in action during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday Feb. 3, 2018. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)

MADRID — Alexis Sanchez has reached a deal with Spanish authorities to avoid prison time in a tax fraud case stemming from when he played for Barcelona.

Sanchez was handed a 16-month prison sentence for defrauding tax authorities of nearly 1 million euros ($1.2 million) in 2012 and 2013, but he will not have to serve time.

Sentences of less than two years for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

In addition paying back what he owed, Sanchez was also fined nearly 600,000 euros. The Manchester United forward also had to pay more than 100,000 euros in interests for the amount defrauded.

Aa part of the deal, Sanchez will be ineligible for requesting tax benefits for two years.

The Chile international was accused of defrauding authorities for income related to his image rights. Authorities said he failed to pay nearly 600,000 euros in 2012 and about 400,000 euros in 2013.

Sanchez played for Barcelona from 2011 until 2014, when he was signed by Arsenal.

Several other players have been targeted by Spanish tax authorities in recent years, including Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who two years ago was found guilty — along with his father — for defrauding authorities of 4.1 million euros.

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

Sanchez's coach at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho, is being investigated for the time he worked at Real Madrid.

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