MANCHESTER -- La Liga president Javier Tebas says the Spanish league was powerless to stop the tax problems that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been embroiled in.
Real Madrid's Ronaldo is currently fighting a court case in which he denies having evaded €14.7 million ($17.5m) in tax on his image rights while Barcelona's Messi received a suspended 21-month jail sentence last year, later commuted to a fine, for hiding €3.3m in earnings from image rights from the Spanish tax authorities.
"I don't like the issues that these players are having," Tebas said at Soccerex in Manchester. "First of all, there are some issue regarding interpretations of tax norms in Spain in both cases.
"It's not the money they're receiving from the clubs, it's from sponsors. What can we, as La Liga, do in this situation?"
He added: "I know both cases very well. Cristiano Ronaldo's case, in my opinion, he's right. They're associating with him incomes that were not made in Spain when Spanish legislation allowed him not to report those incomes."
Messi's father was also sentenced, and the Barcelona player told his trial he knew little of how his money was managed and admitted signing documents without reading them.
"In the case of Messi, no one believes that Messi really knew what he was signing," Tebas said. "Players rely very much on their agents. That's the reality of footballers. It's not healthy for Spanish football and it hurts us."
Tebas deflected questioning by referring back to investigations being carried out by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) into Newcastle and West Ham. Both clubs were raided by investigators in April.
"The tax authority has still not investigated a club in Spain as HMRC is investigating clubs at the moment," he said. "That damages the Premier League's reputation. Should we put a clause saying they should be kicked out of the Premier League? We have all got problems."
According to The Mail on Sunday, at least two Manchester United players are being investigated by HMRC for the use of image rights and putting money through private companies to slash their tax bills.