Diego Costa Atletico

Diego Costa with six-month prison sentence

Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa has been given a six-month prison sentence for tax fraud.

According to the Spanish outlet El Mundo, the 31-year-old has pleaded guilty to a tax offence amounting to €1.1m.

Costa has been sentenced as he has not declared payments of over €5.15m from his move to Chelsea back in 2014. He also did not declare more than €1m in image rights.

However, Costa will not go to jail, despite the sentence, as the Spanish law allows sentences under two years for non-violent crimes to be exchanged for a fine.

The former Chelsea player will have to pay a fine at around €543,208 (£485,324) plus additional €36,500 on top of his initial punishment to avoid jail time.

He appeared in the court in the Spanish capital on Thursday wearing a white mask due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"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the prosecutor and has already paid the corresponding fine plus interest, and the request for a prison sentence was withdrawn," an Atletico Madrid spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

Diego Costa is not the first football player who has been sentenced for tax fraud in the recent years.

In 2019, the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo agreed to pay €18.8m in fines and taxes and was given a 23-month sentence, substituted for another €365,000 payment, due to a tax fraud during his stay in Madrid.

Just two years earlier, in 2017, Barcelona star Lionel Messi was given a €2m fine and a 21-month jail sentence, but later it was replaced by an additional €500,000.

Barcelona fully supported their top goalscorer and key player.

“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,” read the club's statement.