A GIBRALTAR firm is at the centre of a row over the image rights of Barcelona football ace Lionel Messi.

The fall-out is over disputed shares in Sport Consultants Ltd, a firm set up by Gibraltar-based Sovereign Trust to control the use of the Argentinean’s commercial image rights.

The row – between the player’s mum Celia Maria Cuccittini de Messi and football agent Rodolfo Hector Schinocca – relates to ownership of 25,000 shares in the company.

The judge ruled the mother was the ‘absolute legal and beneficial owner’ of the shares, following a hearing at Gibraltar’s Supreme Court.

Schinocca claimed he had agreed to invest $250,000 in 2004, in return for a 50 per cent stake in the image rights for the three-time World Footballer of the Year.

But the Messi family disputed this, claiming they had never agreed for Schinocca to have such a large share in their son’s image rights.

Summing up, the judge said: “Mr Schinocca was improperly seeking to maximise his share of profits in Lionel’s image rights and obtain control of the corporate structure through which these were managed and controlled.”

James Bryce

About James Bryce

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