Recent reports in both Sport and Mundo Deportivo have provided details on some of FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi’s summer plans. In the month of June, the Argentina forward has volunteered to participate in three friendlies in North and South America, all to benefit various charities.
Messi, considered the best player in the world, will participate in an altruistic match dubbed the ‘Copa Mundial Maya 2012′ [Maya World Cup 2012] on June 16th in Cancun, on the Caribbean coast in Mexico, together with some other Barça players such as Mascherano, Pinto, and the Dos Santos brothers (Jonathan who plays in the reserves and Giovanni who is a former Barça player).
“We are very grateful that Messi will come to play in Mexico,” said Alexia Visone, director of Interamérica, the company organizing the ‘Copa Mundial Maya 2012′ along with the government of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and the leaders of the tourism industry. Visone assured that Messi rejected offers to visit and play in the countries of Qatar and Burkina Faso to be present in Cancun with the “Estrellas de América” [Stars of America] along with two dozen other players from teams in the Americas and Europe. The “Stars of America” will face a team of the “Stars of Mexico”, made up of players from the local League, in a match that will be played at the Andrés Quintana Roo stadium which holds 20,000 fans. Brazilian Dunga will participate as the coach of the “Stars of America” with Ricardo ‘Tuca’ Ferreti guiding the “Stars of Mexico”, the country where he lives and works.
Tickets to the match will range from 1,850 pesos (140 dollars) up to 4,000 Mexican pesos (300 dollars) with the money to go to social welfare institutions, explained Alexia Visone. Mexican ex-player Luis Flores, sports adviser to the organizers of the ‘Copa Maya 2012′, indicated that each team will have around 30 players. “The idea is a friendly match where the players feature for an average of 20, 30 minutes, understanding that some are in pre-season and others returning from vacation,” explained Flores.
Featuring in the “Stars of Mexico” team will be Argentines Federico Vilar (Morelia), Lucas Lobos (Tigres), Damián Álvarez (Tigres), Daniel Montenegro (América), Vicente Vuoso (América), Colombian Jackson Martínez (Chiapas), Brazilian Leandro Agusto (Tijuana) and Uruguayan Egidio Arévalo (Tijuana). Also participating will be Mexican players Moisés Muñoz (América), Miguel Sabah (Morelia), Braulio Luna (Estudiantes), Miguel Layún (América), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Ángel Reyna (Monterrey), José Guerrero (Atlante) and Mexican-American Edgar Castillo (Tijuana). Confirmed in Messi’s team, the “Stars of America”, are Diego Lugano (París Saint Germain), Juan Arango (Borussia), Ariel Ortega (River Plate), Juan (Roma), Julio César (Inter Milan), Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid), Robinho (Milan). Also taking part will be Marco Materazi (Inter), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Mario Yepes (Milan), Diego Milito (Inter), Giovani dos Santos (Totenham), Jonathan Dos Santos (Barcelona), José Manuel Pinto (Barcelona) and Gabriel Milito (Independiente).
Messi will also be involved in another charity match leading the ‘Friends of Messi’ against a group of ‘All Stars’ in Miami on June 23rd, just before the 25th birthday of the blaugrana crack. The team led by Messi will also include Javier Mascherano, and was also originally to include Dani Alves, though his recovery time from a broken collarbone now puts his participation in doubt. Confirmation has also come in for players Falcao, Drogba, Cavani or Nesta and ex-Brazil coach Dunga will again be in charge of one of the teams.
After Barça’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic de Bilbao, the blaugrana’s no. ’10′ will head to Argentina, where he’ll join the albiceleste in a World Cup 2014 qualifying match on the 2nd of June in Buenos Aires. On June 9, Messi will play in a friendly between Argentina and Brazil in New Jersey (United States).
Afterwards, Messi is already scheduled for three friendly matches though his charitable foundation. Besides the friendlies in Cancun and Miami, Messi has also committed to a game in Colombia initially scheduled for June 21.