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Messi Is "Not From A World That Is Concerned By Human Rights Issues"

Leo Messi has been unveiled as the new official brand ambassador of the Saudi Tourism Authority, ...


Messi Is "Not From A World That Is Concerned By Human Rights Issues"

Leo Messi has been unveiled as the new official brand ambassador of the Saudi Tourism Authority, despite human rights groups urging him not to get involved with the Saudi regime.

The seven-time Balon d'Or winner traveled to Jeddah today with his Argentina and PSG teammate Leandro Parades and posted a 'sponsored by Visit Saudi' message on Instagram, 'Discovering the Red Sea in Saudi. #VisitSaudi'.

When the Argentina captain was approached by Saudi Tourism earlier this year, a group representing families of prisons in the Gulf State wrote to Messi through Grant Liberty.

"You are an inspiration to millions and what you say and do really matters. To put it bluntly – you have enormous power, but with that power comes great responsibility.

"The Saudi regime wants to use you to launder its reputation. Prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia have been tortured, sexually assaulted, and held in prolonged solitary confinement – often for months at a time – on an industrial scale.

"Women’s rights campaigners, reformist preachers, Shia activists, democracy campaigners, indeed anyone who criticises or even questions the regime can face long-term imprisonment and in some cases the death penalty.

"If you say ‘yes’ to Visit Saudi you are in effect saying yes to all the human rights abuses that take place today in modern Saudi Arabia. But if you say ‘no’ you will send an equally powerful message – that human rights matter, that decency matters, that those who torture and murder do not do so with impunity.

"The world must stand up to those who trample on others."


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A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

South American football expert, Marcela Mora y Araujo, joined Joe Molloy on The Football Show to discuss the PSG forward opting to link up with a Saudi Arabian regime accused of multiple human rights abuses.

"In the pinnacle of elite sport that he's in, that's not a world that is concerned with human rights issues, and never has been.

"I think Messi is very much a celebrity at peak value at the moment and looking at that value decreasing," the Guardian writer said when asked why such a wealthy sports star would take such a deal.

"Purely from a commercial and financial point of view, he's raking it in. It's a World Cup year, his last one, and he's going to be the biggest star at the tournament.

"As much as I'd like to see football take on those issues, I think we're a long way off. Especially in a World Cup year where this is FIFA's biggest business and it's a money game."

Araujo says Messi has continually sought to avoid taking political positions during his career.

"He hasn't used his voice. It's interesting that you mention Marcus Rashford because I think he's quite a unique example of someone who has actually campaigned for social change.

"That's very different from simply donating money or setting up a foundation or something. Messi is unlikely to be asked about this deal because in interviews he's treated with kid's gloves.

"I think he's super bright but I don't think he's overly engaged with wider issues."

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Leo Messi Saudi Arabia