Was Lionel Messi punched outside of a restaurant? Is it much ado about nothing? The soccer superstar decided to speak out after the story gained steam in news outlets and on social media platforms.
Fresh off of Barcelona's outclassing of Manchester United in the Champion's League final, Messi returned to Argentina for a little R & R. The soccer icon was signing autographs outside a restaurant in his home city of Rosario when a youth in the crowd aimed a punch at him, according to published reports.
"There was a crush of people waiting outside," Pablo Moyano, who was working in the restaurant, told the Associated Press. "There were kids, reporters, photographers waiting ... and one of the kids tried to punch him. I don't know if he pulled it off. He went running afterward."
The uncertainty of what exactly happened outside the restaurant led to a crush of speculation on Twitter as fans took to the popular micro-blog to sound off.
"Why would someone want to throw a punch at Messi?" tweeted @RanSuarez.
"Jealousy I guess!" he wrote adding the hashtag '#hater.'
"The guy who threw a punch at Messi must have been a bitter Manc," tweeted Stephen from England, referring to Barcelona's vanquished rivals.
And some got downright religious about the incident.
"Can't believe someone threw a punch at Messi," wrote Annie Eaves. "Isn't that some kind of blasphemy?"
After the deluge of information and subsequent reaction, Messi himself felt compelled to make a statement about what happened. He took to his Facebook page Thursday evening to set the record straight in Spanish.
"For the peace of mind of everyone who has asked me about the truth of the incident that happened when I was leaving a restaurant, I want to tell everyone that I wasn't punched by anyone. I'm perfectly fine. I've been surprised by the firestorm this has caused. Thank you to everyone for the messages and interest in the matter."
Messi's Facebook response had garnered more than 31,100 likes and over 6,200 comments by Friday morning.
He arrived in Rosario, about 300 miles north of Buenos Aires, this week for a holiday before practice starts next week for the Copa America the South American championship. The Copa America opens July 1 with Argentina facing Bolivia, according to the Associated Press.