West News Wire: When gunmen opened fire at a grocery owned by his in-laws in Argentina on Thursday, they left a written letter threatening the legendary Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, according to authorities.
It is unknown why the attackers chose to target Messi or the Unico store in Rosario, Argentina’s third-largest city, which is run by the family of Messi’s wife, Antonella Roccuzzo. No one was hurt in the early morning incident.
Rosario, which is around 190 miles (300 kilometers) northwest of the capital of Buenos Aires, has seen an increase in drug-related violence. The city’s mayor, Pablo Javkin, went to the grocery store and blasted the federal government for what he called their failure to stop the violence.
Police said two men on a motorcycle fired at least a dozen shots into an Unico branch in the early hours, leaving a message on carboard that read, “Messi, we’re waiting for you. Javkin is also a drug trafficker, so he won’t take care of you.”
Messi has not commented. Considered by many to the greatest soccer player of all time, Messi is revered in Argentina, especially since he led the national team to the country’s first World Cup victory in 36 years in Qatar in December.
Messi currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain and spends much of his time overseas, though he often visits Rosario where he has a home in the suburb of Funes. The French team posted a photo on social media of Messi training on Thursday morning.
In Rosario, prosecutor Federico Rébola said authorities were reviewing security camera footage and that the investigation was “preliminary.” It was the first time Messi’s in-laws had received this kind of threat, he added.
Celia Arena, justice minister for Santa Fe province, where Rosario is located, said the attack amounted to “terrorism” by a “mafia” group meant to intimidate the broader population.
Messi, 35, is currently renegotiating a contract with Paris Saint-Germain that ends this year amid speculation that the soccer superstar could decide to end his career playing for one of the local Rosario clubs, Newell’s.
Messi, who this week won FIFA’s best men’s player award, could travel to Argentina later this month to join the national squad in playing two friendly matches. One takes place March 23 against Panama in Buenos Aires, while the other one will be five days later against Curacao in the northern city of Santiago del Estero.