BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Vandals in Buenos Aires destroyed a statue of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, leaving the sculpture of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner without its head or torso on Tuesday (Jan 10).
"The statue of Lionel Messi fell victim to an act of vandalism that left it without its top half," the Buenos Aires city government said in a statement.
The statue, sculpted out of black marble, was erected last June just after Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile, after which Messi announced his international retirement.
The 29-year-old Messi - who soon came out of retirement again - has a love-hate relationship with Argentine football fans, many of whom accuse him of failing to replicate his brilliant Barcelona form for his country.
The monument is far from the first to be targeted in the area with that of former US Open champion Gabriela Sabatini stripped of its racquet not long ago.
Tributes to Messi as well as the likes of basketball star Manu Ginobili, four-time tennis Grand Slam winner Guillermo Vilas and Formula One great Juan Manuel Fangio are all located along the Buenos Aires "walk of fame".