BARCELONA

Barça's hashtag to support Messi over tax fraud conviction

Barcelona have urged fans to "express their sympathy for the greatest footballer in the world" after he was handed a 21-month jail term.

Athletic Bilbao - Barcelona

Barça's hashtag to support Messi over tax fraud conviction
JOSEP LAGO AFP

Barcelona have again moved to show their backing for Leo Messi following his sentencing for tax fraud, launching a social media campaign for the Argentine striker.

Statement from club, president takes to Twitter

Messi and his father, Jorge, were handed 21-month jail terms on Wednesday after being found guilty of defrauding Spain's tax authorities of 4.1 million euros on income earned from image rights.

The club issued a statement of support for Messi in the hours after the ruling, while president Josep Maria Bartomeu also posted a message on his Twitter account on Friday, declaring: "We'll defend you to the end".

Social media campaign: #WeAreAllLeoMessi

And in an announcement on their website on Saturday, Los Azulgranas called on supporters to take to social media with videos or photos 'with both hands open', using the hashtag #WeAreAllLeoMessi.

"The campaign is encouraging all Barça fans to express their sympathy for the greatest footballer in the world by voicing their unconditional support," Barça said.

Messis to lodge appeal

Neither Messi is expected to serve time behind bars as they both have no previous convictions and the sentences they have been given are under two years.

The pair's lawyers have confirmed that they are to appeal.