Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi helped obtain 50,000 vaccines for South American players ahead of the Copa America tournament.
Messi donated three autographed sweatshirts to the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac in exchange for the vaccines.
"Sinovac's directors manifested their admiration for Lionel Messi, who kindly sent us three shirts for them," tweeted the Conmebol official Gonzalo Belloso.
However, Messi's gesture was not free of controversy as according to a report by The Guardian, the deal was brokered by Uruguay's conservative president Luis Lacalle Pou. And Pou, responsible for such a deal, is now being questioned in his country, which is dealing with the world's most serious Covid levels.
"Just as the president manifested cooperation with Conmebol to vaccinate for the Copa América, he could just as well have the same consideration for Canelones," Yamandú Orsi, the mayor of the Uruguayan city of Canelones, was quoted as saying in The Guardian's report.
Some of the 50,000 vaccines are going to Argentina's 26 male first division teams, the report added.
The Copa America is going to be held in Argentina and Colombia in June this year. The event, which was supposed to be held in 2020 but was deferred due to coronavirus pandemic, will run for one month from June 1 to July 10. Even though the tournament has been postponed for a year, there are fears about holding the event once again for the recent surge in Covid cases worldwide.