Barcelona has taken to defending its unusual social media campaign which urged supporters to back Lionel Messi following his conviction of tax fraud.
Messi was recently handed a 21-month jail sentence following tax evasion charges, while the club has called on supporters to get behind their player with the #WeAreAllLeoMessi trend.
The campaign has not gone according to plan, however, as criticism has poured in for Barca seemingly excusing Messi’s actions.
But Barca spokesperson Josep Vives has since explained the club’s stance.
‘Messi is being treated unfairly and the club is taking a position to defend him. Our conscience is clear and we will not back down,’ he announced to the club’s website.
‘He focused on playing football and signed contracts based on the trust placed in financial advisors, who work for him, looking after his earnings.
‘The Finance Ministry, who defend people’s wellbeing, do not accuse Messi because they understand there is no legal basis to accuse him.’
Barca remains adamant the player being explicitly targeted.
‘There have been other famous figures who have not been through the same situation as Messi. That disdain we do not want for any fan, member or Messi either.
‘For that reason we have launched the campaign and we will go beyond that because it is just and we will support Messi in any action he takes from now on,’ Vives concluded.
Messi hit 26 goals in La Liga for Barca last term as they secured the title.