BUENOS AIRES: Barcelona superstar Leo Messi, after all, has come to the support of Madrid’s bid to win host rights to the 2020 Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee votes here in Buenos Aires on Saturday between Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo.
On landing in Buenos Aires ahead of Argentina’s preparations for a World Cup qualifier, the World Player of the Yearsaid. “I think Madrid’s Bid offers many great possibilities for the city and for demonstrates Spain’s passion for all sports.
“I think it is good for sport if Madrid is awarded the Games – not only for the city, but also for the top-level athletes in Spain”, stated Messi, who wore the Madrid 2020 T-shirt and raised a flag of the Spanish bid.
“It is very important to host the Olympics in the country where I live. I was very lucky to participate in the Olympics for Argentina and it is an amazing experience for all athletes.”
For Alejandro Blanco, president of Madrid 2020 and the Spanish Olympic Committee, Messi’s support was particularly welcome after earlier suggestions that his sporting loyalties to Barcelona and Catalonia would keep him off the subject.
Blanco said: “Leo Messi never refused to support the Madrid bid,” and hopes that this would end the controversy after several press releases regarding Messi’s absence in a video supporting the Spanish capital’s bid.
“There was a problem of availability, because he was training when the promotion was shot,” said Blanco. “It is a great honour for us to have Messi’s personal support especially for what he stands for as a sportsman, for his sport nd as a person.”
Messi’s message adds to the support expressed by many of the key players in Spanish sport, as well as the support offered by the main football clubs in Argentina; Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Barcelona’s player has just arrived in Argentina, where he will join the country’s national team to play a match against Paraguay next Wednesday.
At the training ground of the AFA (Argentine Football Association) in Ezeia, Messi posed with a bid flag and a T-shirt, which symbolizes his support for Madrid’s Olympic dream, a support shared by the Argentinian football federation, headed by its president Julio Grondona.