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Leo Messi did not donated 3.5 Million Euros to Earthquake Victims in Turkey and Syria

On February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern and central Turkey, as well as northern and western Syria. Amidst this, a viral claim has emerged on social media platforms and some media outlets have published articles stating that the famous football player Lionel Messi has donated 3.5 million euros in humanitarian aid through his foundation to help the affected people.

Some viral Facebook posts with this claim can be found here, here, here, here, and here.
Archived versions of those Facebook posts can be found here, here, here, here, and here

Screenshot from Crowdtangle.

Some media outlets such as Daily Pakistan (Pakistan), VOI (Indonesia), Bol News (Pakistan), Tirana Post (Albania) and Euro Weekly News (Spain) published articles with this claim.

Screenshot from YouTube.

Some viral YouTube videos with this claim can be found here, here, here, and here.
Archived versions of those YouTube videos can be found here, here, here, and here

Screenshot from TikTok.

Some viral TikTok videos with this claim can be found here, here, here, and here.
Archived versions of those TikTok videos with this claim can be found here, here, here, and here.

Screenshot from Twitter.

Some viral Tweets with this claim can be found here, here, here, and here.
Archived versions of those Tweets can be found here, here, here, and here.

FactCheck

According to the Rumor Scanner investigation, the claim that Leo Messi announced a 3.5 million euro donation for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria is false, and there is no evidence that he actually made such a donation. Rather, the claim originated falsely citing UNICEF.

Origin of the Rumor

On February 7 at 1:53 PM Bangladesh time, the Rumor Scanner team found a banner (archive) on a Facebook page name ‘Fc Barcelona Ruling Club since : 1899’ claiming that ‘Leo messi foundation will donate €3.5m to recent victims who suffered from devastating earthquake and tsunami in turkey and syria.’ This was the first Facebook post discovered by the team regarding the said claim, and the same banner was seen being promoted on numerous Facebook IDs and pages that day. Examples of these posts can be found here (archive), here (archive), here (archive), and here (archive).

Source: Facebook

A closer examination of the banner in question reveals that it includes the text “Source: UNICEF,” giving the impression that the information contained in the banner originated from UNICEF. Additionally, the banner features a Facebook username, “sarcasmfootballmnepal,” which corresponds to a Facebook page named “Sarcasm Football Nepal.” A review of the page’s activity shows that it is a football-related page that features various football news and sarcastic content.

After browsing the timeline of the Sarcasm Football Nepal page, the banner was not found. However, when the Rumor Scanner team contacted several people who had posted the banner on Facebook, those individuals stated that they had obtained the banner from ‘Sarcasm Football Nepal. This suggests that the banner was originally posted by the Sarcasm Football Nepal page but was later removed. Despite attempts to contact the page regarding this matter, no response was received.

Furthermore, the banner claims that the source of the donation claim is UNICEF, but no such information was found on UNICEF’s official website or social media profiles. Additionally, there is no credible media source confirming this donation claim.

It is worth noting that a similar incident occurred in the past with the spread of false information on social media. After the death of football legend Pele on December 29, a claim began circulating on social media that “FIFA has decided to keep Pele’s feet in a museum.” Upon investigation, the Rumor Scanner team found that the claim was entirely false. It was discovered that the rumor was first spread by the ‘Sarcasm Football Nepal’ page, falsely citing the Brazilian media outlet ‘TNT SPORTS BRAZIL’ which did not report any such information. After the Rumor Scanner report was published, the post was removed from the page. For more information on this incident, see the report here.

On February 8th, a verified Twitter profile based in Turkey, ‘Trivela Sports’, tweeted about the same claim. However, no credible reference was provided to support the claim. Most of the posts promoting this claim were found to be using Trivela Sports as the source. However, it should be noted that Trivela Sports is not a reliable media source, and it only has a verified profile badge because the account subscribed to Twitter Blue. Twitter Blue is a paid subscription service that adds a blue checkmark to your account and offers early access to selected features, such as Edit Tweet. It was introduced as a new feature from Twitter after Elon Musk’s

Messi
Screenshot from Twitter.

Later on the same day, a report about the same claim was published on the website of the Albanian online portal ‘Tiranapost.’ The source for the claim in the report is mentioned as “according to Turkish media reports.” However, it is important to note that until that day, no mainstream Turkish media had reported on this claim. When contacted, fact-checkers in Turkey also confirmed that they had not come across any credible sources supporting this claim.

Screenshot from Tiranapost.

Later, some media outlets in Bangladesh published articles with the same claim, citing Tiranapost as their source. However, It is important to note that Tiranapost is not a Turkish media outlet but an Albanian online portal, as mentioned in their report. The media outlets who published the claim did not provide any credible source to support it. They also did not include any statement from Turkish or Syrian authorities, nor did they include any comment from a representative of the Leo Messi foundation. It is important to mention that credible and well-known media outlets such as Reuters, Marca, The Athletic, Sky Sports, TYC Sports Argentina, and many others did not report on such claims.

To summarize, after the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria on December 07, a false claim was posted on Facebook by a page called ‘Sarcasm Football Nepal’ citing fake sources in the name of UNICEF. On February 08, a verified Twitter profile based in Turkey, ‘Trivela Sports’, tweeted the same claim without any credible source. Many social media platforms later used ‘Trivela Sports’ as their source, even though it is not a reliable media outlet and only has a verified badge because it subscribed to Twitter Blue, a paid subscription that adds a blue checkmark to your account and offers early access to select features. It is important to note that credible media outlets like Reuters, Marca, The Athletic, Sky Sports, TYC Sports Argentina, and many others did not report on this claim. Additionally, some media outlets in Bangladesh also published articles with the same false claim, citing Tiranapost as their source, even though it is an Albanian online portal and not a Turkish media outlet.

Messi’s aid for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria
Screenshot of an Instagram post by Leo Messi.

While promoting this, it was mentioned in the Turkish media that ‘Fotomac‘ and ‘Ensonhaber‘ Lionel Messi donated 3.5 million Euros to help earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. However, Messi’s posts or the UNICEF donation link in the post did not find such information.

Messi’s jersey on auction to help the earthquake victims

Turkish footballer Merih Demiral has collected Lionel Messi’s signed jersey and put it up for auction to raise funds for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. The proceeds from the auction will be used to help people affected by the disaster. Demiral has also collected jerseys signed by other star footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe, and auctioned them off in the same way to support the relief efforts.

Screenshot Source: CNN

Bottom Line

Basically,On February 06, an earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, and the day after, a Facebook page called ‘Sarcasm Football Nepal’ posted a claim titled ‘Leo Messi Foundation announces donation of 3.5 million Euros for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria’, citing sources from UNICEF. This claim spread widely on social media, but a search of the organization’s social media profiles did not publish such information. A verified football Twitter profile in Turkey also tweeted the claim without any source, and an Albanian online portal called Tiranapost published the claim, citing “some Turkish media reports”. However, no mainstream media in Turkey reported on the issue. Later, some media outlets in Bangladesh published articles with the same claim, citing Tiranapost as their source, but they did not provide any credible sources to support the claim. Lionel Messi did promote a donation link to UNICEF to help earthquake victims and Messi’s signed jersey was also auctioned by Turkish footballer Merih Demiral to help the earthquake victims, but he and his foundation did not donate 3.5 million Euros, as claimed in the fake news.

Hence, the claim that Lionel Messi and his foundation donated 3.5 million Euros to help earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria is false.

Sources

RS Team
Rumor Scanner Fact-Check Team
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