Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona star Lionel Messi may be at risk of missing future Champions League matches in England if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (EU) at the end of October. The UK is currently scheduled to exit from the European Union on October 31, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson unlikely to secure a deal in the remaining time.
The UK's exit from the European Union may prevent some of the world's top football players from entering the country and compete for their clubs after October 31. A new law will come into force that will restrict anyone with a criminal conviction and without the requisite paperwork.
The new law that will come into force after the UK exits from European Union, will be applied on anyone who has been convicted of tax fraud when visa requests are considered even though the person in question is not deemed a threat to national security.
This could dash hopes and plans of several teams for the Champions League and Europa League.
Andrew Osborne, a lawyer with the firm Lewis Silkin, has been quoted by several UK media saying, "If you are an EU citizen and you have been convicted of an offence or have had a prison sentence imposed (including suspended sentences), you will be denied entry to the United Kingdom."
Osborne claimed Messi's tax evasion sentence could impact his chances of playing on British soil. "There is a specific point around European games," he added. Osborne further explained, "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."
Messi and Ronaldo as well as several other football players, who have been convicted of tax fraud in Spain, Marcelo and Diego Costa, could fall foul of the new law. Notably, in 2017, Lionel Messi received 21-month sentence, which was later successfully exchanged for a fine, while Ronaldo was sentenced 23-month term along with fine of 18.8 million euro earlier this year.
This clearly indicates that neither the Barcelona nor Juventus star would be able to represent their clubs on British soil after October 31 as soon as the Britain exits from EU. Meanwhile, other football players will also be subject to the same travel ban if they are found to have defrauded the Spanish tax authorities.