Barcelona have faced backlash from the footballing community after the club issued a plea to football fans, asking them to show support for superstar Lionel Messi.
Messi was found guilty and sentenced to 21 months prison time by a Spanish court earlier this week.
The club has been worried about losing their star-man ever-since the verdict was announced and have been taking desperate measures to keep the Argentine happy.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 9, 2016
The club has gone lengths to please the 29-year old, urging fans to come out in support of the tainted superstar but the move has back-fired as fans from across the globe have questioned the motives behind such an unethical appeal from the club.
On Saturday, the following was posted on the club’s official website:
FC Barcelona has set up a campaign in support of Leo Messi following the sentence issued this week against the Argentinian and his father.
Using the hashtag #WeAreAllLeoMessi while posting a photo or message with both hands open, the campaign is encouraging all Barça fans to express their sympathy for the greatest footballer in the world by voicing their unconditional support on social networks.
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.
The club faced tremendous outrage after the tweet, as fans flocked to twitter, though some were sympathetic towards the little magician, most called the move ‘pathetic’ and ‘ridiculous’.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu went a step ahead and sent a tweet saying “Leo, those who attack you are attacking Barça and its history. We’ll defend you to the end. Together forever!”
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
The backlash seems to be justified, considering the fact that the club are trying to portray Messi as a victim and not a “convict”.
Hoping it’s a joke that FC Barcelona is asking the world for sympathy for Lionel Messi following his tax conviction https://t.co/81jW8tXbBf
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) July 9, 2016
— Bobby McMahon (@BobbySoccerRep) July 9, 2016
However Messi has appealed in the upper-Court, but Barcelona’s tactics are sure to have a negative impact on the clubs image.