Lionel Messi "appeared in a Spanish court on Friday to defend himself" against allegations of evading €4.2M ($5.7M) of taxes "related to the four-time world player of the year’s image rights and sponsorships," according to Miles Johnson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Messi "arrived at a closed court session in the Catalan city of Gavà to be greeted by cheering supporters, as well as the odd cry of 'thief' from the crowd before entering the courthouse to testify." Messi, often celebrated as a hero in his adopted Catalonia, "has denied the alleged offences alongside his father, which are said to have taken place between 2007 and 2009" (FT, 9/27).
The Lawn Tennis Association "is set to announce a two-year funding freeze for grassroots projects just as clubs are bursting at the seams and desperate to capitalise on Andy Murray's Wimbledon triumph," according to Paul Gallagher of the London INDEPENDENT. As LTA CEO Roger Draper steps down from his £640,000 ($1M)-a-year post on Monday at the end of a controversial five-year reign at the top of the game's governing body, "documents circulated earlier this month warn that the highly contentious move is on its way." Instead of awarding capital grants to clubs around the country, the LTA "will announce that any club wanting to expand or improve its infrastructure will receive only an interest-free loan." Coaches and club chairmen said that "the move was incomprehensible at a time when interest in tennis was unprecedented." Sources said that the LTA "is prioritising the elite game over grassroots tennis." The source said, "There is only a certain amount of money at the LTA and something has to give, but it will be a shame if grassroots projects are being hit at a time when we all want to capitalise on the interest around the U.K. after Andy's fantastic year" (INDEPENDENT, 9/29).