London: Barcelona FC star Lionel Messi was last night dragged into the weirdest propaganda war ever between opposing sides in Syria.
The world’s highest- paid footballer was accused of sending secret signals to gun-smuggling rebels — using his dribbling skills.
The outrageous claims about the Barcelona star are made in a video posted online, The Sun reports.
A voiceover says that on Sunday, Syrian TV channel Addounia broadcast footage of Messi, 24, going on a twisting run before setting up a goal for Pedro against Real Madrid.
It then claims his darting runs were a secret code used by gun-runners — and by tracking the direction of the dribbles, passes and shot, it is possible to draw a route into Syria.
As Messi makes his run, the voiceover states: "Here we see the first stage where arms are loaded from Lebanon. Then they pass through Homs and are delivered to another terrorist. We also see how they warn that they will face some obstacles until they reach Dayr Al Zawr."
As Pedro’s shot hits the net, the voice says: "Then they are transported by bus to the final destination, located in Al Magadin."
But the jury was out as to whether the Argentinian ace had been unwittingly used in a piece of government brainwashing, rebel propaganda or just a daft hoax.
It would not be the first time state-controlled Addounia made crazy claims. The channel once said a rival station sent coded messages via its weather forecasts.
But Syria experts said the film could also be a bid to smear Syrian tyrant President Bashar al-Assad.