Barcelona's three-time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi's mother won a court case over her son's lucrative image rights Tuesday, when a judge in Gibraltar ruled that a sports agent had tried to rip her off.
The case centred on the sale of shares in a sports consultancy that managed the image of the Argentine player in 2005, before he shot to the height of his fame and became regarded as the best footballer in the world.
The Supreme Court in the British territory ruled that the agent, Rodolfo Hector Schinocca, fraudulently obtained the signature of the player's mother, Celia Maria Cuccittini de Messi, and that the amount of shares allocated to him increased in circumstances that remained unclear.
"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," judge Anthony Dudley said in a written ruling.
"Mrs Messi's signature in the documents identified in the issues was obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation/deception on the part of Mr Schinocca," Dudley wrote, naming her rightful owner of the disputed shares.