A shock report has suggested that FC Barcelona superstar and captain Lionel Messi could be banned from entering England to play against English clubs in the UEFA Champions League under certain circumstances.
In recent years, the 32-year-old has performed brilliantly against English opposition in Europe, having scored 26 times against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
In the event of Brexit, however, Messi might face issues travelling to England in future due to his previous tax fraud convictions.
This has not been an issue for the Argentine in the past due to his dual Spanish-Argentine passport, which makes him a European Union (EU) citizen. As his previous convictions have been of a non-violent nature, Messi has been able to travel to England to play football, but that could change if the United Kingdom leaves the EU.
Immigration lawyer Andrew Osbourne of firm Lewis Silkin recently spoke about the matter.
"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," he told The Athletic, as cited by the Daily Mail.
"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."
It has also been claimed, however, that Messi would likely be pardoned if this situation did present itself.
Do you think Messi would be handed an exemption if Brexit becomes a reality and the above ruling is enforced? Let us know in the comments section below.