Shots fired at supermarket run by Messi’s in-laws
Buenos Aires, Mar 2 (EFE).- No one was hurt when shots were fired in the wee hours of Thursday at a supermarket run by the in-laws of soccer great Lionel Messi, Argentine authorities told EFE, disclosing that the attackers left a message addressed to the star.
The incident occurred around 3:20 am at a Unico supermarket in the central city of Rosario, Messi’s home town, that is operated by the family of his wife, Angela Roccuzzo.
While most of the 14 bullets lodged in metal blinds, at least one went through a window and landed inside the store.
“Messi we are expecting you, (Rosario Mayor Pablo) Javkin is also a narco, he won’t protect you,” the message read.
Rosario, Argentina’s third-most-populous city, has been plagued for years by violence attributed to drug traffickers, and the mayor responded indignantly to the shooting and the threatening note.
“It’s very clear that it’s easy to do damage to Rosario and that Rosario does not get a hell of a lot of concrete help,” Javkin told reporters gathered outside the market. “Rosario is in Argentina and in the province of Santa Fe and it needs a response.”
“Let those who have the responsibility come here. I am the mayor of the city, I don’t control the security forces and when I ask (for help) they don’t give it,” he said.
Javkin and Santa Fe Gov. Omar Perotti took part this week in a meeting of the provincial security ministry’s joint command devoted to discussion of steps to reduce violent crime in Rosario.
“Every time we demand something concrete and direct, these actions appear. We have six (security) forces in Rosario, where are they?,” the mayor said.
The intent of the attack was attracting notoriety, he said.
“What is more viral internationally than an attack with the name Messi?,” Javkin asked rhetorically.
Though Messi has spent his entire professional career abroad, playing 17 years with Barcelona before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, he makes frequent visits to his home town and was in Rosario for Christmas after leading Argentina to victory in the 2022 World Cup.
Federal Security Minister Anibal Fernandez said that the central government is ready to deploy an additional 3,500 police to combat the drug traffickers who have dominated Rosario “for 20 years.”
“Of course,” Fernandez said when a reporter asked if the ministry would provide protection for Messi during his planned stay in Argentina late this month for a pair of international friendlies.
Gabriel Heinze, a former teammate of Messi’s on the national team who now coaches Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, said that Thursday’s incident will make the superstar think twice about coming back to live in Argentina.
Heinze, whose career included spells with top European clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United, told reporters that he had come to see his own decision to return to Argentina as “irresponsible” because he failed to take the crime situation into account.
Messi played for the Newell’s junior team as a boy and many in Rosario hope that he will accept a position at the club when he decides to hang up his cleats. EFE