Real or Hoax: Syria Arms Smuggling Centers on Soccer Goal

Dribbles and Passes Describe Secret Route, Video Alleges

In one of the silliest stories to come out of the Syrian Civil War, a new video, allegedly from Syria’s Addounia television, has claimed that Syrian rebel arms smuggling routes are being passed from faction to faction by way of Spanish soccer player Lionel Messi.

The narrative claims that Messi and teammates on Barcelona FC scored a goal against rival Real Madrid in a live, televised match using a route of dribbles and passes that could be overlayed on a map to recreate the route of weapons smuggling from Lebanon into Syria. Since the goal in the high profile match was replayed over and over on satellite TV stations, it was reliably distributed across the network.

Which of course is nonsensical for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that goals are uncommon in soccer and there is no possible way even Messi, one of the best strikers on the planet, could have planned out his team’s entire route down the field and known they would be able to score a goal on it. The report is already bringing down scorn on Bashar Assad’s regime, as Addounia is state-run.

But maybe that’s the point? The Addounia website does not appear to have such a story, and indeed includes a story today praising Messi’s talent. This has led to speculation that the video is in fact a fraud created by some opponent aimed at discrediting the regime.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.