Barcelona‘s support campaign for Lionel Messi following his conviction for tax fraud has been criticised by the president of the Spanish tax inspectors union.
Messi, who lost the Copa America final to Chile last month for a second year running, was recently convicted of tax fraud, sentenced to 21 months in prison and was ordered to pay a fine of €4.1 million.
The Argentine ace escaped the prison sentence as a ruling in Spain prevents first-time offenders from serving time behind bars if their sentence if less than two years.
However, Barcelona soon leapt to his defence, sparking a campaign on social media to help support the forward, using the hashtag #WeAreAllLeoMessi, but they have now been criticised by the Spanish tax authorities.
“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’s tax fraud charges come from hiding money earned from his image rights from the authorities by using off-shore accounts to escape paying tax.
He has since appealed the decision to fine and hand him a jail sentence, but the authorities are concerned that Barcelona’s support will not help making ordinary people in the country pay tax an easy task.
Messi has had a poor summer all-round having lost his fourth final for Argentina and his third in as many years. It sparked his immediate retirement from international football, but protests and pleas have been made to beg the forward to change his mind.
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