#WeAreAllLeoMessi panned as 'car crash' by PR pros as Barcelona sticks up for convicted star

PR professionals were tutting on Twitter this weekend at FC Barcelona's #WeAreAllLeoMessi campaign to support its star player after his conviction for tax offences, calling it "confirmation of everything rotten about football" and "a car crash of a social media campaign".

On Wednesday, the Spanish club's striker Lionel Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison after being found guilty of tax fraud – although neither the star nor his father, who was also convicted, are expected to spend time behind bars.

The news sent shockwaves through the sporting world – and left brands working with the Argentine to question whether their relationship was still viable.

On Saturday, Barcelona announced its support for its star, starting the hashtag #WeAreAllLeoMessi and encourage fans to send messages. On its website, the club said: "By making it clear that #WeAreAllMessi, we want Leo to know that he is not alone. All members, supporters clubs, fans, athletes, media and everyone else are invited to participate."

However, the campaign attractive negative comment from Twitter users, including a number of comms pros.

Charity digital specialist Joseph Freeman was unimpressed.

Local government comms pro Dan Slee was equally scathing.

Ketchum director Rod Cartwright said the club had failed to read the social mood.

Others were far firmer in their criticism.

However, with a number of people sending the desired messages of support, the club appears undeterred, and has continued with the campaign.

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