Fears that Messi may quit Barca after his conviction for tax fraud
The president of Spain's La Liga has expressed concern that Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona in the wake of his recent tax fraud conviction.
Alongside his father, the Catalan superstar was found guilty of defrauding the state of £3.5million in unpaid taxes and has been sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Although the 29-year-old won't be serving his time in jail, president Javier Tebas fears the conviction may push the player to leave for another country. "Of course I fear that [Messi] could leave," Tebas said.
"But the only thing I can tell him is that from La Liga we believe he isn't guilty and that he should stay in Spanish football."
The scandal has prompted a public response from the club who have rallied to the defence of the player. In a bid to demonstrate their solidarity with the player, Barcelona have devised a hashtag campaign with the caption "#WeAreAllLeoMessi". Fans have been encouraged to tweet their support for Messi with the hashtag while posting a photo of themselves with both hands open.