Argentina captain Lionel Messi’s bronze statue has been destroyed by vandals. The statue was cut in half less than a year after it was unveiled in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The statue of Messi was unveiled in June last year, just days after the Barcelona star had announced his retirement from the international game following Argentina’s defeat in the 2016 Copa America final, according to BBC News.
As reported by Goal’s Daniel Edwards, a statement from the Buenos Aires city government did not reveal the identity of any known suspects but stated that the statue would be repaired:
“The statue of Lionel Messi fell victim to an act of vandalism that left the footballer’s sculpture without its top half. The City Government is now working on its repair.”
Onda Cero programme El Transistor provided images of the damaged statue:
— El Transistor (@ElTransistorOC) January 9, 2017
The 29-year-old has since reversed his decision to quit the Albiceleste, telling Argentinian newspaper La Nacion (via The Independent) he would “prefer to [fix Argentinian football] from inside and not criticise from outside.”
Argentina are struggling in the CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup—they lie fifth in the South American standings. However, Messi netted as they convincingly beat Colombia 3-0 in their last outing and will hope for a repeat performance in their next qualifier against Chile in March.