Messi, who has appealed the decision and will avoid prison even if the sentence is upheld, was found guilty of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of £3.2m alongside his father, Jorge Messi.
His employers began a social media campaign today in support of Messi, asking fans to “express their sympathy for the greatest footballer in the world” and to “voice their unconditional support on social networks”.
Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu showed his public support for Messi by saying “Leo, those who attack you are attacking Barça and its history. We’ll defend you to the end. Together forever!”
The club have been lambasted for the move on Twitter, with widespread astonishment at the club’s decision to publicly back the player.
Miguel Delaney tweeted: “This is staggeringly tactless from a club. He’s not a victim!”
While Liam Canning wrote: “#WeAreAllLeoMessi – Oh wait, we’re not, because we pay our taxes and he quite clearly doesn’t. He’s not the victim. Shameful from Barcelona.”