HRF Slams Messi Over Gabon Trip, Here’s Why

HRF Slams Messi Over Gabon Trip, Here’s Why

By Augustine Ogwo | Staff Reporter on August 3, 2015
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Lionel Messi (Photo Credit: plusfutbol.es)

Argentine soccer legend, Lionel Messi may be a darling to all lovers of the round leather game but he is getting the sticks for his recent trip to Gabon.

The Barcelona forward was in Gabon where he helped lay the foundation stone for one of Gabon’s new proposed venues for the 2017 African cup of nations.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is now criticizing the four-time world footballer of the year for showing support for the oppressive government led by Gabonese dictator, Ali Bongo.

While on the trip, Messi had also visited a government-run hospital and a restaurant owned by the President’s family.

HRF’s president, Thor Halvorssen through a statement on the organization’s website slammed the Argentine captain for ‘endorsing a kleptocratic regime’ and undermining his status as a UNICEF ambassador

Lionel Messi & Ali Bongo during the soccer star's recent visit to Gabon (Photo Credit: elsol.com.ar)
Lionel Messi & Ali Bongo during the soccer star’s recent visit to Gabon (Photo Credit: elsol.com.ar)

“In providing PR services to Gabon’s Bongo family, Lionel Messi has seriously undermined the credibility of his own charitable foundation.

“Whereas Messi claims to support children’s rights, and even serves as a UNICEF ambassador to promote youth education, he has endorsed a kleptocratic regime that refuses to investigate the ritual murder of children in Gabon.”

“Messi’s trip is part of the Bongo family’s PR campaign to promote the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, which Gabon will host at enormous expense despite the fact that the Bongo family’s embezzlement has left 20 percent of the population to live on less than $2 per day,” the HRF President said

Reports had it that Messi was paid a huge sum by the Gabonese government for the trip but that has since been denied by the government.

According to Ali Bongo, Messi was only in Gabon to fulfill a promise he made to him.

“When I was in Barcelona a few years ago, I met Messi, who had told me that he would come to visit me in Libreville. It’s a promise he made me. He is a man of honour who just kept his word,” Bongo said.

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