BARCELONA: Friends, relatives, friends and former business associates of ex-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell have marked his birthday by launching a social media campaign supporting his release on bail.

Rosell, 53 yesterday, has been detained in in prison for more than nine months on charges of corruption and money laundering arising from his involvement in the sale of television rights of the Brazilian national team.

The charges are part of Operation Rimet which is also focused on Ricardo Teixeira, a long-time friend and associate of Rosell and ex-president of the Brazilian football confederation. Businessman Joan Besoli, another of Rosell’s associates, is also under investigation.

One of the supporters of Rosell’s plea for bail is Josep Maria Bartomeu who succeeded him as president after the eruption of another scandal over hidden sums involved in Barcelona’s purchase in 2013 of Brazilian superstar Neymar.

Bartomeu’s WhatsApp avatar is the black and white photo that accompanies the campaign – a picture of Rosell and the label ‘Sandro, et volem home’ (Sandro, we love you, man).

Rosell’s lawyer Pau Molins, has applied in vain on six occasions for his client’s release but National Court Judge Carmen Lamela has always rejected it on the grounds that the one-time Nike executive is a flight risk.