Authorities said on Friday that Chinese police seized a young football fan and banned him from stadiums for a whole year after the young man stormed the playing field and embraced Lionel Messi during a friendly match between Argentina and Australia in Beijing.
The man, who was wearing a jersey, raced onto the field at the Worker’s Stadium on Thursday night during the middle of the second half of the game and received an embrace from his hero before being pursued by security personnel.
The antics of the individual were met with cheers and applause from the audience, but the officers were not pleased.
‘Administrative custody has already been imposed on him in line with the law,’ the police said in a statement on Friday, identifying the 18-year-old by his surname, which is Di. “The Chaoyang District public security bureau has already imposed administrative detention on him,” the statement said.
The police issued a warrant prohibiting Di from attending sporting events held in stadiums for the subsequent year.
“Di also expressed remorse for his actions and accepted the punishment from the public security organ,” the statement continued, although it did not clarify how long Di had been jailed or whether he had been freed. “Di also accepted the punishment from the public security organ,” the statement concluded.
In a country obsessed with football like China, where both the national team and the domestic league are suffering, Lionel Messi is revered as a god despite the fact that China’s national team is playing poorly.
On Thursday, Messi led his team to a 2-0 victory over the Socceroos in front of more than 50,000 fans in Beijing who braved the sweltering heat to see the match.
A lot of people wore replica shirts with Messi’s name on them, while others painted their faces with blue and white stripes and waved small Argentine flags.
Earlier in the week, a large crowd of supporters had gathered in front of the opulent hotel where the squad was staying, and they had lined the tightly patrolled streets in the area in the expectation of catching a sight of their idol.
One fan revealed to AFP that in order to get closer to Messi, he had concealed inside the janitor’s closet at the hotel where the Argentinian squad was staying.
He was taken into custody by hotel security and questioned for a while before being let go.