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Lionel Messi cancels trip to Turkey for charity match after attempted coup

Utsav Agarwal
4.08K   //    16 Jul 2016, 13:11 IST
Lionel Messi court
Lionel Messi was recently convicted for three counts of tax evasion

Lionel Messi and a host of other stars were set to take part in Samuel Eto’o’s charity match scheduled to be held in Antalya, Turkey today. But due to security reasons, the match has been canceled according to reports. All the players and the staff members have been taken to safety and Fabio Capello reportedly said: “the news has reached us in Antalya, there's a bit of anxiety, but here all is quiet.”

The match in question was going to be on a grand scale, as stars and legends all over the world were invited to participate in the former Chelsea and Barcelona forward Eto’o, with his call for help through a charity match for his foundation.

Famous personalities like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Eden Hazard, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Xavi Hernandez, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Arda Turan to name a few were expected to be part of the match. Retired legends like Carles Puyol, Diego Maradona, Jay Jay Okocha and Marcel Desailly to name a few, were also invited for the occasion.

Also read: 8 players who found success after Real Madrid let them go

The match was scheduled to be held despite a few footballing personalities like Jose Mourinho withdrawing just one day before, lots of the footballers had already travelled to Antalya and many were planning to make the trip before the Turkish military threw a coup. 

According to reports, Eto’o’s former teammates Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have also canceled their tickets upon learning about the military coup. Chelsea star Eden Hazard arrived in Turkey, along with Barcelona’s Arda Turan but both have all been taken to safety.

Messi was supposedly on his way to Turkey, but due to the military coup, he will continue to holiday in Ibiza, Spain after canceling his flight to Antalya for the charity match. Messi recently got convicted for three counts of tax evasion and was sentenced prison for 21 months, although he is unlikely to spend any time there. Turkish president Recep Erdogan was supposed to spectate the match, but ha instead been taken to safety.

Also read: Comparing Lionel Messi's Copa America 2016 performance with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 performance

Eto’o’s charity was holding this match to commemorate its 10th anniversary, but now it is reportedly canceled. The charity was set up to raise awareness for the African continent and provides support in the protection of children and youth and providing education and healthcare to the disadvantaged.

Reports from England and Spain have continuously claimed that the match remains canceled, although no official word has come out. Media outlets and social media have been temporarily blocked and traditional news channels have been understood to be critical targets for attacks in the past. 

Hopefully, we will get an official word from the Turkish FA or the government about the current condition of the country soon.

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Utsav Agarwal
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