Soccer Star Messi Joins Beitar Jerusalem Team Fan Club

Beitar’s team owner, businessman Moshe Hogeg, presented Messi with a membership card at an event in Barcelona Monday

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match.
Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi became a member of the fan club of the controversial Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem.

Beitar’s team owner, businessman Moshe Hogeg, presented Messi with a membership card at an event in Barcelona in which he presented Finney, the “world’s first ultra-secure blockchain smartphone.”

Messi, who plays professionally for the Spanish team Barcelona, has won the FIFA Ballon D’Or prize for the best soccer player in the world five times and often is considered one of the greatest players of all time.

He had a previous relationship with Hogeg, who in December 2017 hired Messi as brand ambassador of his company Sirin Labs.

Read more: When an Arab Fan Is Beaten by Israelis Under Beitar Jerusalem's Nose | Editorial: Reaping Hatred in Jerusalem

Hogeg bought the soccer club in August for $7.2 million from Eli Tabib, who had been the owner since 2013. He published on Twitter Tuesday a video showing Messi receiving his fan club membership card. One reply suggested that his card would be found around back in a dumpster after the event.

Messi and Argentina’s national soccer team were scheduled to play against Israel in Jerusalem this year, but the game was cancelled due threats by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.