Has Saudi Arab police detained Messi during FIFA World Cup 2022? Know the truth. 

False Sports

A photo of football star Lionel Messi is currently going viral on social media, in which he can be seen surrounded by a few police officers. It is being claimed that Messi was detained by Saudi Arabian police during the FIFA World Cup 2022. 

However, Fact Crescendo found the claim to be false. This is an old image of when Messi was escorted by police and not detained. 

What’s The Claim?

Sharing the image, social media users are claiming that it is not the first time Saudi Arabia locked up Lionel Messi 

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Another post on Facebook claimed that Messi was arrested as he performed poorly against Saudi Arabia. 

Fact Check- 

Google Reverse Image Search on viral image led us to the Getty Images website where we found the same image. According to the information, this image is from November 2012. Upon arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Messi and the Argentina team were escorted by security personnel.  

We also found similar image uploaded on Alamy website. According to the information, Lionel Messi was escorted by security personnel as he arrived with his team in Riyadh on November 12, 2012. Argentina was scheduled to play a friendly soccer match with Saudi Arabia. 

According to a report by Metro News on 13 November 2012, Argentina’s soccer team arrived in Saudi Arabia for a friendly match. Upon arrival at the airport, Messi was escorted by security guards. At that moment one of the security guard’s guns ended up pointed toward Messi’s face which led to a stunned look on his face. In the end, Messi was able to get through the airport unharmed. 

Had Messi ever been arrested in Saudi Arabia?

There was no news report available to back the claim that Messi was previously arrested in Saudi Arabia. However, according to a report by the Hindustan Times on 7 July 2017, Messi had been sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud in Spain but later the sentence of imprisonment was substituted with fine.


Fact Crescendo found the claim to be false. The viral image is a decade old when Messi was being escorted out of the airport in Saudi Arabia. He was not detained by police as claimed in the post.


Title:Has Saudi Arab police detained Messi during FIFA World Cup 2022? Know the truth.

Fact Check By: Siddharth Sahu 

Result: False