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Spanish tax inspectors slam Barcelona's pro-Messi campaign

The president of the Spanish tax inspector's union feels support for Messi, who has been convicted of tax fraud, won't help convince Spaniards pay their to taxes. Sporting vs Barcelona

Spanish tax inspectors slam Barcelona's pro-Messi campaign
Rodolfo MolinaDIARIO AS

The campaign Barcelona launched on social media in support of Leo Messi in the face of his conviction for tax fraud, #weareallleomessi, hasn't just provoked a backlash from the public on Twitter, but also now from Spanish tax inspectors.

Support for Messi not helpful says tax inspectors

The president of the Spanish tax inspectors union, Gestha, spoke out on Spanish radio station Cadena Ser:

"Our view is that a campaign of solidarity, such as the one being run at the moment by Barcelona, in support of people who have defrauded the public purse isn't something that exactly improves the tax conscience of Spaniards", said Carlos Cruzado.

Messi was sentenced to 21 months in jail for defrauding the tax authorities out of 4.1 million euros, by hiding his income from image rights behind a web of offshore companies. Messi almost certainly won't go to jail as sentences under two years where the individual has no prior convictions are generally suspended. Messi has appealed the conviction.

Tax inspectors frustrated over support for Messi from Barcelona

The frustration of the tax inspectors is understandable in a country that suffers typically high rates of tax evasion and where the tax authorities have for years been running campaigns to try to make the public aware of the very real need to comply with their tax obligations due to the need for public services and investment.

The campaign run by Barcelona has not been a resounding success. Although it has garnered support from some Barça and Messi fans, it's been widely criticised by many who feel they have nothing in common with someone who failed to pay their taxes. There has been a wave of reactions on Twitter condemning and mocking the campaing, while a new hashtag #IAmNotLeoMessi has been launched in response.


The Messi hashtag is a curious echo of the phrase used since 1978 by the Spanish tax authorities to try and raise individual's awareness of their need to comply with their tax obligations: 'Todos somos hacienda' meaning 'We are all the tax authorities', a phrase which has now been mimicked by Barcelona in their campaign in support of a convicted tax fraudster.



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