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Messi statue vandalised

Jan 12, 2017, BUENOS AIRES, Reuters 0:29 IST

Football

before and after A combination picture shows the statue of Lionel Messi when it was unveiled on June 28, 2016 and after it was vandalised on Tuesday. REUTERS
A statue of Lionel Messi in Argentina's capital has been broken in half, with the player's upper body, arms and head removed.

The statue on the Paseo de la Gloria walkway overlooking the River Plate was severed at the waist leaving only the lower body and a ball.

City Hall said they do not know who was responsible or the motive for the damage.
"It was the victim of an act of vandalism," the city's culture secretariat said on Tuesday. "The city government is already working on repairs."

The statue was unveiled in June shortly after Argentina lost the final of the Copa America Centenario to Chile on penalties, a defeat that prompted Messi to say he was quitting the national team.

The Barcelona forward, who returned to international duty for World Cup qualifiers in September, is widely loved in his homeland.

He does, however, have his detractors, notably those who are critical of his performances for Argentina, who have lost three major finals in two years, including at the 2014 World Cup. Messi was named the player of the 2014 World Cup held in the neighbouring South American country Brazil but he was bitterly disappointed after failing to sparkle in the final won by Germany in extra-time.

He endured an injury-hit 2016 for long periods and ceded the best player of the year prize to Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The walkway has statues of Argentine sports greats including racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, NBA basketball star Manu Ginobili, golfer Roberto de Vicenzo and tennis players Guillermo Vilas and Gabriela Sabatini.


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