FACT CHECK: No, Photo Does Not Show Lionel Messi Holding Up An Israeli Flag
A photo shared on Facebook allegedly shows Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi holding up an Israeli flag.
The image has been digitally altered. The original image shows Messi holding up a sign promoting a sports memorabilia brand.
Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel plans to keep a tight hold on the Gaza Strip even after the conflict with Hamas winds down, according to USA Today. Netanyahu recently said that Israel would be open to “tactical little pauses” to allow for humanitarian aid, but rejected the idea of a ceasefire, Reuters reported.
The Facebook post purports athlete Lionel Messi showed support for Israel. The image appears to show a screenshot taken from Messi’s Instagram in which is smiling while holding up an Israeli flag.
“Messi support Israel,” the post’s caption reads.
The photo is digitally altered, however. The image cannot be found through a search of Messi’s Instagram profile.
The unedited photo was posted to Instagram by the account Icons Memorabilia and shows Messi holding up a sign promoting the brand. “The home of signed football memorabilia from the world’s best players, including Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona, Neymar Jr, Modric and many more!” the account’s Instagram bio reads. (RELATED: Is Argentina Putting Lionel Messi On Their Currency?)
View this post on Instagram
“Nothing outside of football is ever discussed during these signing sessions, and we can say with absolute confidence that the images portrayed online are fake,” a spokesperson for Icons said in an email to Check Your Fact.
Check Your Fact reached out to a spokesperson for Messi for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received from either source.
This is not the first time misinformation involving Israel has spread since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim that the nation of Yemen has declared war on Israel.
Note: Check Your Fact is working to debunk false and misleading claims from the recent event. Please send tips to [email protected].