A statue of Argentina and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi was found vandalised in Buenos Aires on Monday. The bronze statue was found broken in half with the head and torso removed. It was unveiled last June in a public attempt to convince Messi to reconsider his international retirement after losing in a penalty shootout to Chile in the Copa America final.
The statue stood on Paseo de la Gloria (Glory Street) which also has sculptures of tennis player Gabriela Sabatini and basketball player Manuel Ginobili. Interestingly, the incident happened the same day Cristiano Ronaldo beat Messi to the Best Fifa Player of the Year award in a glittering ceremony in Zurich.
Así han dejado unos vándalos la estatua de Leo Messi en Buenos Aires #ElTransistor pic.twitter.com/yrhxgrEPh0— El Transistor (@ElTransistorOC) January 9, 2017
Messi had skipped the ceremony. His Barcelona teammates, including Neymar, who could be named in a World XI voted for by players, did not travel for the event. Barcelona later explained the decision, saying they wanted to give priority to preparations for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey match against Athletic Bilbao. What led to the vandalisation wasn’t clear but city officials said repairs are already underway.
“The statue of Lionel Messi fell victim to an act of vandalism that left the footballer’s sculpture without its top half,” the Buenos Aires municipal government said in a statement. “Its repair is now being worked on.”