Did Barca fail to support Messi in ‘tax-gate’?
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Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta says the club should have better supported Lionel Messi during his tax fraud trial and also criticised the Blaugrana board for renewing the shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways for well below the current market rate.
After Messi and his father, Jorge, were found guilty by a Barcelona court of three counts of defrauding the tax department and handed down suspended jail sentences of 21 months, Barcelona launched a controversial #WeAreAllLeoMessi campaign urging fans to “express their sympathy” with a player who the club said had been unfairly treated by the authorities.
Some reports have suggested that Barca’s show of support was motivated by fear that Messi was now planning to let his contract run down until 2018 and then leave the Camp Nou.
Speaking to Catalunya Radio, Laporta, a long-time critic of current Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu and predecessor Sandro Rosell, said it was striking that no senior Blaugrana figure accompanied Messi to court when the player was giving evidence in early June 2016.
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Sources: DailyMail, BBC, SkySports, soccernet.com, football365.com
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