Barcelona want to use Lionel Messi to help expand commercial ties with Russia despite diplomatic tensions between Moscow and the West, the Spanish club's vice-president Javier Faus said on Tuesday. Russia and Brazil were places where the club did not have a major business partner and while Argentine Messi could help in Russia, Brazilian Neymar could do the same in his native country, Faus said on the club website (www.fcbarcelona.com).
Faus was announcing Barcelona's financial results for 2013/14 in which the club made a record turnover of 530 million euros ($710.8 million). Member-owned Barcelona reported a net profit of 41 million euros last season despite losing out on the Spanish title to Atletico Madrid and seeing rivals Real Madrid claim the Champions League.
"We are much stronger and we feel we have a greater presence around the world than we did four years ago", Faus said after the club matched Real Madrid in breaking the 500 million euro turnover figure. Russia is facing the threat of tougher economic sanctions over its support for separatists in Ukraine who are accused by the West of shooting down a Malaysian Airways passenger plane this month, killing 298 people.
Britain's deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and some German politicians have called for Russia to be stripped of the right to host the 2018 World Cup. Barcelona's image took a blow in January when club president Sandro Rosell stepped down when he was accused of tax evasion over Neymar's move from Brazilian club Santos.