Diego Costa has been handed a six-month prison sentence for tax fraud.
The 31-year-old, who joined Atletico Madrid from Chelsea in 2017 was also fined €543,208 (£485,324) having pleaded guilty to defrauding the state of more than €1m (£813,000) by not declaring payments of more than €5.15m (£4.19m) from his 2014 transfer from Atletico to Chelsea in the UK.
However, despite the sentence, Costa will not serve time behind bars as Spain’s legal system allows sentences under two years for non-violent crimes to be exchanged for a fine.
Costa appeared in court wearing a white mask in the Spanish capital on Thursday and has agreed to pay an additional fine of €36,500 on top of his initial punishment to avoid jail time.
“Diego Costa reached an agreement a few months ago with the prosecutor and has already paid the corresponding fine plus interest and the request for a prison sentence was withdrawn,” an Atletico spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have fallen foul of Spanish tax laws in recent years.
In January 2019, Juventus striker Ronaldo – who played for Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018 – agreed to pay €18.8m in fines and taxes and was given a 23-month sentence, substituted for another €365,000 payment.
Two years earlier, Barcelona star Messi was given a €2m fine and a 21-month jail term – replaced by an additional €500,000.
Barca came in support of their top-scoring player at the time.
“FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today,” a statement read.
“The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.
“FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests.”