BARCELONA

Barcelona president takes to Twitter in support of Messi

Josep Maria Bartomeu posted a message on social media expressing his backing for the Barça star following his sentencing for tax fraud.

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Barcelona president takes to Twitter in support of Messi
Miguel Ruiz

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has taken to social media to send a message of support to Lionel Messi, who was handed a 21-month jail term for tax fraud this week.

In a post on his Twitter account, Bartomeu wrote: "Leo, those who attack you are attacking Barça and its history. We’ll defend you to the end. Together forever!"

Not likely to go to jail

Barça ace Messi and his father, Jorge, received the sentence after being found guilty of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of 4.1 million euros on income relating to image rights.

However, neither is expected to serve time behind bars as the terms they have been given are under two years and neither has a criminal record.

Messi (left) sits in court with his father, Jorge Horacio, during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona.

Club expresses support

Shortly after Wednesday's ruling, the club issued a statement offering its backing to the player, saying: "FC Barcelona gives all its support to Leo Messi and his father with relation to the sentence for tax evasion handed out by the Provincial Court in Barcelona today.

"The Club, in agreement with the Government prosecution service, considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish Tax Office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.

"FC Barcelona continues to be at the disposal of Leo Messi and his family to support him in whatever action he decides to take in defence of his honesty and his legal interests."

Appeal announced

The Messis' lawyers have confirmed that they are to appeal.