Barcelona have launched a bizarre and somewhat misplaced social media campaign asking fans to show their support for Lionel Messi, following his appeal against a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud.
The Argentine superstar and his father were found guilty of tax evasion last week in Barcelona, with the courtesy finding them guilty of three counts of dodging tax amounting to a whopping 4.1m Euros.
While neither Messi or his father are likely to actually serve any of the time, they are still appealing the decision at the supreme court. Following on from this, Barcelona have decided to create a ‘#WeAreAllLeoMessi, urging fans to post photos of themselves with both hands open.
A statement from the club said:
By making it clear that #WeAreAllMessi, we want Leo to know that he is not alone. All members, supporters clubs, fans, athletes, media and everyone else are invited to participate.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 9, 2016
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu also took to Twitter to show his support for Messi, who has always denied the charges…
Leo, those who attack you are attacking Barça and its history. We’ll defend you to the end. Together forever!
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) July 8, 2016
While it’s all well and good seeing a football club back its players, we’re not sure that such a public show of support for a multi-millionaire convicted of tax fraud is the best PR for the club.
Indeed, judging by many of the responses on Twitter, the whole thing could be a massive own-goal for the Catalan giants.