According to ESPN, an investigation has been opened by La Liga authorities after reports that Lionel Messi had hosted a lunch party at his house. This comes ahead of Barcelona's game against Atletico Madrid with Ronald Koeman's side looking to take over first-place from the league leaders.
With reports, that were later confirmed by images, indicating that Lionel Messi had hosted a team lunch at his house in Castelldefels, it has seen many criticize the Barcelona squad for potentially breaking COVID-19 protocols. It has seen ESPN report that although players and partners have followed social distancing regulations while hosting the lunch party, the Spanish league is seeking for more information before they can undertake a decision on the aforementioned get-together.
Ronald Koeman had given the players Monday afternoon and Tuesday off owing to the absence of midweek fixtures. In what seems to be a decisive game, with a win over Atletico Madrid would potentially allow Barcelona to fly to the top of the table, much remains to be seen for the outcome of such reckless decisions. Although the vaccination programme in Europe has garnered critical success in reducing cases, strict guidelines have to be still followed keeping in mind the overall welfare of the league and its players.
But that hasn't always been the case and failure to follow protocols haven't been dealt with seriously. Four Sevilla players had come under fire for hosting a barbecue amidst the rapidly rising Covid 19 cases in 2020. But while La Liga president Javier Tebas said "measures would be taken" against the four players, the issue disappeared after the players issued public apologies with the club reportedly doling out their own punishment.
However, despite all the reported precautions the vice president of the Catalan government Pere Aragones has criticized the action of these Barcelona players and urged them to take accountability for their actions and what they represent. He also added that the players need to lead by examples especially given their high profile nature.
"At a time when we're taking steps forward to relax the restrictions, we must behave in an exemplary way, especially those with public profiles, who are an example for many people," Aragones said reported by ESPN.