World Cup trophy Lionel Messi lifted in record-breaking Instagram photo could be fake
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Lionel Messi’s record-breaking Instagram photo may not actually feature the real World Cup, according to eagle-eyed Argentina fans.
The Argentinian secured his maiden World Cup trophy at 35 years of age with a victory over France in the final in Qatar.
His victory was a momentous moment in sporting history – captured in a poignant image of him hoisting the trophy in the air proudly, as Messi wrote on Instagram: “CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!
“So many times I dreamed it, so much I wanted it that I still didn’t fall, I can't believe it......
“Thank you so much to my family, to all who support me and also to all who believed in us. We proved once again that when Argentinians fight together and are united we are able to achieve our aims.
“The merit belongs to this group, which is above individualities, it is the strength of all fighting for the same dream that was also one of all Argentinians.
“We did it!!! LET'S GO ARGENTINA DAMN!!!!! We’ll see each other very soon.”
The post hit 55.9 million likes on the platform in just over 24 hours, surpassing the previous record set by an image of an egg.
But Argentina fan Paula Zuzulich has claimed that the trophy in the picture is actually a fake one – having been a model created for supporters.
Zuzulich, who was in Qatar, told Argentinian outlet Clarin: “Before the World Cup we got in touch with people who make trophies and it took six months to make it.
“The idea was to get the players to sign it, but in the end, it was taken down to the pitch three times. First a member of [Leandro] Paredes' family got him to sign it. The second time we were asked for it, it was down there for 45 minutes, being passed from one player to another, from one relative to another, while photos were taken."
She added: “FIFA security arrived and asked us to hand it over to make sure it wasn't the original.
“There are some details, marks and reliefs that are not similar, but the difference is minimal.”
Messi's teammate Angel Di Maria had actually noticed that the bottom of the trophy in the photo was slightly different to the original, realising it looked more like that of the replica.
Di Maria had even pointed it out to Messi at the time, with photos from the trophy presentation showing him pointing to the bottom of the model.