Lionel Messi's tax trial has begun with the player deciding not to appear in court for early proceedings.

Messi is facing a prison sentence of nearly two years on charges he failed to properly pay taxes for part of his earnings from Barcelona from 2007-09.

The Argentina forward is not obligated to appear in court until Thursday, when he is scheduled to testify before a judge.

Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud for allegedly defrauding Spain's tax office of 4.1 million euros ($4.5 million).

Because of the trial, Messi is missing Argentina's preparation for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Saturday in the United States. He is expected to fly straight to the U.S. after the trial ends.