Leo Messi has categorically denied receiving payment for his visit to Gabon last week, following claims by France Football that he was paid 3.5m euros by Gabon President Ali Bongo to lay the foundation stone at a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations venue. .
Lionel Messi has become the center of a controversy, after France Football alleged he recieved 3.5m to lay the foundation stone at a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations stadium, the Port-Gentil stadium in Gabon, as a guest of President Ali Bongo.
Keeping a promise
The 4-time Ballon Da Or winner had been given rest after completing Copa America duty and hence, missed FC Barcelonaa s pre-season tour of the US.
But, the Argentina superstar traveled to Gabon to keep a promise he had made to the president as per the man himself:
“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,” President Bongo said.
a Ita s a promise he made me. He is a man of honour who just kept his word.”
Demands retraction of reports of compensation for Gabon visit
Despite the president defending Messi, reports in France Football say that the 28-year-old received 3.5m as compensation for his visit to the former French colony.
Later, the Argentine striker also inaugurated a hotel owned by the Bongo family, while showing full support to their regime.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Messi is outraged by the claims made and he has demanded a retraction from the French publication.
According to the Spanish paper, Messi didna t receive any money for the visit, and agreed to it because of his friendship with former FC Barcelona teammate Samuel Etoa o, who is close with Mr Bongo.
Messi accepted the invite from Etoa o, and went to Gabon with another former teammate, Deco.
The FC Barcelona star is furious that France Football did not even bother to contact him to verify the reports as per the Spanish paper’s report.