The family of Argentine World Cup Champion Lionel Messi received an alleged narco threat in his hometown of Rosario, the country’s most violent city.
Several shots were fired early Thursday at a supermarket in Rosario owned by the family of Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, according to local reports. The shooters left a message that referred to Messi himself and the mayor of Rosario, Pablo Javkin: “Messi, we’re waiting for you, Javkin is a narco, he isn’t going to protect you.”
Messi and his family haven’t commented and the motive remained unclear. Later Thursday, Javkin criticised the multiple police forces patrolling Rosario for lack of enforcement.
President Alberto Fernández said at an event that he was in touch with local authorities to find out what happened.
“We’re doing a lot but evidently something more will have to be done because the violence and organised crime in Rosario is a really serious problem,” he said.
Messi is largely regarded as a hero in Argentina, especially after the dramatic World Cup victory in December. More than four million Argentines celebrated the cup victory in a parade in Buenos Aires. Earlier this week, Messi received FIFA’s most prestigious individual award for his performance at the 2022 World Cup. He and his family live in France where he plays for the club Paris Saint-Germain, but they regularly visit Rosario, where they have relatives and businesses.
Argentina’s third most populous city, Rosario is northwest of Buenos Aires by about three hours driving. A major export hub, the city has long struggled with drug-related violence with both sides of the political aisle blaming the other for lack of progress.