Soccer-Argentina’s Di Maria threatened by drug gangs in hometown, news site says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 25, 2024 | 2:53 PM

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina forward Angel Di Maria received a threat at his family home on the outskirts of Rosario early Monday morning, local media reported, amid a wave of drug-related violence in the city where Lionel Messi also hails from.

The message comes a week after Di Maria, currently playing for Portuguese champions Benfica, said he would like to end his career at his boyhood club Rosario Central.

Local media reports said a car left a sign in front of the private neighborhood where the 36-year-old usually stays addressed to the Di Maria family saying not even the provincial governor Maximiliano Pullaro could guarantee their safety if he returns to the city.

“Tell your son Angel not to come back to Rosario because we will kill a family member. Not even Pullaro is going to save you. We don’t leave paper notes. We leave bullets and dead people behind,” read the message, according to the news portal Infobae, citing police sources.

Rosario, site of one of the world’s largest agro-port hubs, has seen an intense increase in violence by drug trafficking groups, as the city is – according to experts – a potential outlet for illegal drugs to other countries.

Argentine captain and Rosario-born Lionel Messi was also threatened in a letter last year after unidentified gunmen attacked a supermarket owned by his wife Antonela Roccuzzo’s family.

The Argentine government said last week it will send a bill to Congress to allow the armed forces to intervene in internal security operations to fight drug trafficking and crime in Rosario.

(Report by Maximilian Heath; writing by Janina Nuno Rios; Edited by Nicolás Misculin and Costas Pitas)