Messi's footwork part of anti-Syria conspiracy: TV

Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:25pm EDT
 
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By Oliver Holmes

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Barcelona footballers don't just have a slick passing game, they can also secretly indicate arms smuggling routes to Syria, a pro-government Syrian television channel claimed this week.

Without a hint of irony, Addounia TV superimposed a map of Syria on a screen to show how Lionel Messi and his team-mates, representing smugglers, had kicked a ball, representing a weapons shipment, into Syria from Lebanon.

The subtle signals to rebels were transmitted when Barcelona played Real Madrid in December, said the channel, which is owned by a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad. It did not trouble viewers by revealing Barcelona's motives for the exploit.

"First we see how the guns are brought from Lebanon," the presenter comments as one player passes the ball. "Then they cross into Homs and give the weapons to other terrorists in Abu Kamal," he added, referring to rebel strongholds in Syria.

Messi's final flick indicates the successful handover of the weapons to their destination in eastern Syria, he said.

Bizarre it may be, but paranoid conspiracy theories are common coin in the deeply divided and conflict-ridden state.

Take a documentary aired by Addounia in December on how French and American film directors had purportedly helped build mock-up Syrian city squares in Qatar to enable Doha-based Al Jazeera TV to film actors staging phony anti-Assad protests.

Such fantasies feed into Assad's narrative that the year-long unrest against him is all a foreign-orchestrated plot.   Continued...