'Messi, we're waiting for you,' - threat left after attack on family business
Two people on motorcycles shot at a supermarket belonging to the family of Antonela Roccuzzo, wife of Lionel Messi, in Rosario, in Argentina's Santa Fe province early on Thursday morning, local media and the city's mayor reported.
A threatening hand-written message for 35-year-old Messi, Argentina's captain and seven-times World Player of the Year, was also left on the shop door.
"Messi, we are waiting for you, (Pablo) Javkin (the mayor) is also a narco, he is not going to take care of you," it read.
Javkin blamed the security forces for failing to effectively combat organized crime, which in recent years has grown in the important port city, where dozens of ships daily load thousands of tons of grain.
"I spoke (with the Roccuzzos) and they are worried," Javkin told reporters outside the supermarket that was attacked.
Television images showed bullet casings on the sidewalk where the business belonging to Roccuzzo's family is located. The front of the building was hit by 14 bullets and the shop remained closed on Thursday morning.
Santa Fe's Security Minister Claudio Brilloni told reporters that authorities did not have any firm assumptions regarding the motives for the attack. Prosecutor Federico Rébola said the Roccuzzo family had not received any previous threats, a Rosario media outlet reported.
On the official Twitter account "Team Messi" and Antonela Roccuzzo's Instagram profile there were no mentions of the incidents.
The murder rate in Rosario is among the highest in Argentina, as gangs linked to drug trafficking coexist, according to judicial complaints, and clashes causing injuries and deaths are frequently reported.
The attack came weeks before Argentina play two friendly matches in the South American country, three months after Messi led the team to victory in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Neither game will take place in Rosario. Argentina face Panama on March 23 in the capital Buenos Aires and on March 28 they play in the province of Santiago del Estero against Curacao.
The matches will be the team's first in Argentina since the World Cup. Coach Lionel Scaloni has not yet named his squad.