Dubai: Just when you think Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has weathered the storm, along comes another torpedo to batter his beleaguered ship.
The Portuguese has finally reached a deal with the Spanish tax authorities to serve one year in prison in a tax evasion case from his time as coach of Real Madrid in 2011/12, according to El Mundo newspaper in Spain.
Following increasing pressure on his position as coach at Old Trafford thanks to successive defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur, things were looking up for Mourinho as his side comfortably defeated Burnley in the Premier League at the weekend.
And with the international break coming up, you would think he would be ready to enjoy some time out of the unwanted glare of the spotlight.
Nope. That’s not how Mourinho does things, and now he is in the headlines again.
Despite the sentencing, Mourinho is unlikely to serve any time in jail under the deal because Spanish law states that a sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation.
It all began when Spanish prosecutors filed a claim against Mourinho last year on two counts of tax fraud dating back to when he coached Real. Mourinho left Real in 2013 to manage English club Chelsea for a second spell before signing with United in 2016.
Spanish tax authorities had said the Portuguese manager owed 3.3 million euros. Prosecutors said he had failed to declare revenues from his image rights in his Spanish income tax declarations from 2011 and 2012, “with the aim of obtaining illicit profits”.
They said Mourinho had already settled a previous claim relating to his Spanish taxes after a 2014 inquiry, which resulted in a penalty of 1.15 million euros. But tax authorities later found that some of the information presented in that settlement was incorrect, the prosecutors said.
The settlement comes amid a lengthening list of tax fraud cases involving soccer stars in Spain, including Barcelona’s Neymar and Lionel Messi, and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria.
In June, former Real Madrid player Ronaldo reached a deal with the Spanish tax authorities to serve two years in prison and pay a 18.8 million euro fine in a tax evasion case.
The stars who have fallen foul of the Spanish taxman
■ Cristiano Ronaldo - Two-year jail sentence (suspended) in July and 18.8 million euro fine after pleading guilty to evading euro 14.7 millionin tax on image rights between 2011 and 2014.
■ Lionel Messi - 21-month jail term (suspended) in 2016 for tax fraud - reduced to a fine of euro 252,000. Made a voluntary euro 5 million ‘corrective payment’ in 2013.
■ Neymar - Cleared of fraud in May last year but is still awaiting trial for corruption over his 2013 transfer from Santos to Barcelona. Prosecutors are seeking a euro 10 million fine and two-year jail sentence.
■ Javier Mascherano - Received a one-year jail sentence (suspened) for tax fraud after failing to declare earnings in 2011 and 2012 totalling euro 1.5 million.
■ Marcelo - Paid euro 491,000 to the Spanish treasury after he was accused of tax fraud in a case dating back to 2013.
■ Xabi Alonso - Accused of tax fraud in March. Facing up to five years in jail. Prosecutors claim he owes nearly euro 2 million in tax related to earnings from undeclared image rights from 2010 to 2012.
■ Alexis Sanchez - 16-month suspended jail sentence for tax fraud from image rights deals in 2012 and 2013.
■ Luka Modric - Paid almost euro 1 million to settle image rights tax case dating back to 2013 and 2014.
■ Angel Di Maria - One-year jail sentence (suspended) and euro 2 million fine for tax fraud relating to image rights during his four-year stint at Real Madrid between 2010 and 2014.