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Messi’s foundation stone gone missing in Gabon

24 July 2015, 18:02

Libreville - Foundation stones laid for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations stadium in Gabon by Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi and President Ali Bongo Ondimba have gone missing, a daily newspaper said Friday.

"Where are ... the prints of Lionel Messi?" L'Union asked in a headline. With the two stones now missing, "the prints these two personalities left at the scene have been removed," added the daily.

Last Saturday, the four-time World Player of the Year joined Bongo in a widely challenged trip to the southern oil town of Port-Gentil to lay the first stones of the stadium for the contest Gabon will host in two years' time.

Also read: Messi needs to rest - Enrique

"As soon as the theft was noticed (on Sunday) provincial authorities called in security forces to try to shed light on the situation," the paper said, adding that a call for witnesses has been issued.

Investigators "have no leads for now", the report said.

Messi's trip to the equatorial African nation had caused a major stir on social media, with many Gabonese questioning the cost of the visit to the oil-rich country where over a third of the population lives below the poverty line.

The influential "France Football" further fed the controversy Monday by alleging the Barcelona star had received 3.5 million euros ($3.8 million) for the trip, a claim denied by Gabonese authorities.

"The Republic of Gabon denies having paid, or even promised to pay, such a sum of money to the Argentinian international footballer Lionel Messi," the presidency said in a statement.

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