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Argentina: Gunmen threaten soccer star Lionel Messi after shooting up supermarket owned by in-laws

Two men on a motorcycle fired around a dozen bullets into the supermarket before leaving a message on a piece of cardboard

Lionel Mess
Lionel Mess | Shutterstock

March 3, 2023 7:00am

Updated: March 7, 2023 7:15pm

Gunmen threatened soccer player Lionel Messi in a hand-written message on Thursday after they opened fire at a supermarket owned by his in-laws in Argentina, according to authorities. 

The attack took place early on Thursday morning at the Unico supermarket in the city of Rosario, which is owned by the family of his wife, Antonella Raccuzzo. 

According to police, two men on a motorcycle fired around a dozen bullets into the supermarket before leaving a message on a piece of cardboard that said: “Messi, we’re waiting for you. Javkin is also a drug trafficker, so he won’t take care of you.”

It is unclear why the gunmen would target the soccer superstar or the supermarket. Authorities are conducting a preliminary investigation and reviewing security camera footage to try to identify the suspects, according to prosecutor Federico Rebola. 

According to Cecilia Arena, the Justice Minister for the province where Rosario is located, the attack stemmed from “terrorism” by a “mafia” group that seeks to intimidate the population. 

“The aim is to deliberately cause terror in the population and discourage those of us who are fighting against criminal violence, knowing that it will be an event of global significance,” Arena wrote in a social media post.

Rosario’s mayor, Pablo Javkin went to the supermarket after the incident and criticized the federal authorities’ failure to address the recent surge in crime in the country’s third-largest city.

 Rosario, located about 190 miles (300 kilometers) from Buenos Aires, is the country’s most violent city. There were 250 murders in 11 months during 2022, 70% of which were linked to organized crime. 

“Where are the ones who need to take care of us?” Javkin said. “It’s clear that those who have the weapons and have the possibility of investigating the criminals aren’t doing it, and it’s very easy for any gang to carry out something like this.”

Messi, considered by many to be one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has not commented on the incident. 

Messi is currently playing for Paris Saint-Germain and spends most of his time overseas. He often visits Rosario when he returns to his home country.