‘World Cup safe despite Messi threat’
Argentina’s ambassador to Russia, Ricardo Lagorio, has moved to reassure fans that next year’s World Cup will be safe.
A pro-ISIS media group this week issued a threat to carry out an attack at the World Cup in Russia next year with a poster of Barcelona star and Argentina captain Lionel Messi crying tears of blood.
“The image is very strong,” Lagoria said of the poster to TyCSports. “The first thing I want to send is my support to Messi and his family because it’s very unpleasant. He’s the main person affected from this brutal and painful image.
“I have no doubt that the Russian government and the Russian [football] federation will fully guarantee the safety of the World Cup, of the fans and of the tourists. I would like to call for calm and to ask people that will come from all over the world to do so without concerns.”
Argentina won 3-1 at Ecuador earlier this month thanks to a hat trick from Messi in their final World Cup qualifier to join South American sides Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay in next year’s tournament.
Argentina, coached by Jorge Sampaoli, travel to Moscow to face Russia in an international friendly on Nov. 11 at the Luzhniki Stadium.
“For us the World Cup begins on Nov. 11 and it will start in peace,” Lagorio said. “We have to call for calmness. The aim [of latest pro-ISIS propaganda] is to frighten people but all the Argentinians that intend to come should come to the World Cup and do so without fear.
“I reiterate that the Russian government will guarantee the safest possible World Cup, where people can come without worrying about safety.”
Lagorio says the Argentine Football Association (AFA) has not contacted him following the pro-ISIS group threat.
“We have not had a call from the AFA,” he said. “No one is exempt from a terrorist attack and the Russian government and its [football] federation is well aware of that as are other countries.”
Russia hosted the 2017 Confederations Cup, which proved a success for fans and delegations.
Lagoria expects the same high standard at 2018 World Cup.
“We had the Confederations Cup take place and it was safe and everything went well,” Lagorio said. “I’m very optimistic that the government will take the necessary measures so that everything runs smoothly.”
Ticket sales for the World Cup resume on Nov. 16, with 3,496,204 tickets having been already requested after the conclusion of the first sales period.
Two-time World Cup winners Argentina, runners-up in 2014 in Brazil, have not missed the tournament since 1970 and are expected to have a huge following in Russia.