I recently read that the FC Barcelona striker, Lionel Messi, has taken quite a bit of criticism lately from the HRF (Human Rights Foundation. They assert that he displayed “enthusiastic support” for the local dictatorship during his visit to the western coastal country of Gabon this past month. The 28-year-old striker was supposedly paid to visit the country as a promotional technique for the 2017 African Nations Cup. That’s why he met personally with the president Ali Bongo Ondimba. The pair drove through the capital city of Libreville together.
The president of HRF, Thor Halvorssen, said this on the website of HRF: “Lionel Messi has seriously undermined the credibility of his own charitable foundation.” The diatribe continued on to talk about providing PR for an oppressive regime and “partying” with him. It also pointed out that Messi purports to be an advocate for children’s rights and is also an ambassador at UNICEF. Many sources have indicate that Messi accepted a hidden fee in excess of $1,000,000 to attend the country and parade through its streets, though Messi has vehemently denied such accusations.
Children are the central theme of criticism, as many believe that the president is behind ritual killings of children and preventing young people in Gabon from receiving a proper education. Furthermore, while 80% of the population is living on above $2 a day, according to the country’s government, almost 20% are living on less than that. While critics have not been able to connect the ruling family to actual crimes yet, the storm is mounting.
The Human Rights Foundation is an international organization that strives to create freedom for people all around the world. It is present in many developing countries, where its volunteers and employees help to engineer positive social change. The HRF takes very seriously the matters of education, personal freedom, and proper treatment of children.