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Lionel Messi May Have To Miss Future Champions League Games In England Post Brexit

Lionel Messi May Have To Miss Future Champions League Games In England Post Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU on October 31st with no deal then Lionel Messi may have to miss out on any future games in England, and he wouldn't be the only one.

The end of October is the second time that the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union, after the first date was delayed, and the way it currently stands it'll be with no deal in place.

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Should that happen then any future Champions League draw that lands Barcelona in England might see Messi have to miss out, that's according to immigration lawyer Andrew Osbourne.

Speaking to the Athletic Osborne explained how Messi's tax evasion sentence could scupper his chances of playing on these shores, saying, "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. 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."

Messi's last visit to England was only last year, against Manchester United in the Champions League. Image: PA Images
Messi's last visit to England was only last year, against Manchester United in the Champions League. Image: PA Images
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It is expected that the Home Office would make exemptions for footballers but there is no guarantee this would be the case and, whilst Messi doesn't pose a threat, there is precedent for entertainers.

As the Athletic note Chris Brown had to cancel his 2010 tour for his conviction for assaulting the pop star Rihanna and Martha Stewart couldn't get into the country in 2008 after her prison time.

There is a number of other issues for football to sort out once Brexit has actually happened, with the future of players like Gareth Bale under threat.

Spanish clubs are only allowed to register three non EU players in their squad and there's no timeline in place for how long Bale would be allowed to remain an EU player once the UK leaving has happened.

Brexit isn't just about how bendy bananas are it seems.

Topics: Barcelona, Lionel Messi, England, Champions League, brexit, Spain, La Liga, European Football

Ryan Sidle

Ryan is a writer for SPORTbible. He covers all sport from football, formula one, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics, mma and wrestling. He obviously hates YOUR football team and has no interest in synchronised swimming.

 

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