Do two separate images show professional soccer player Lionel Messi holding up a Palestinian flag and an Israeli flag, seemingly in support of both? No, that's not true: Both the images are altered to show Messi with the respective flags. The original images have nothing to do with either Palestine and Israel and were taken as part of a sports merchandise partnership.
The claim that Messi displayed the Palestinian flag appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on October 25, 2023. The post featured an image of Messi with what looked to be the Palestinian flag depicted on a hard surface. The caption of the post began:
Leo Messi Palestinian Support 🇸🇩✌️
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This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Nov 8 16:25:16 2023 UTC)
Similarly, the claim that Messi exhibited the Israeli flag appeared in a post on X that's no longer available but is archived here. Like the Palestinian flag post, this post featured an image of Messi with what seemed to be the Israeli flag depicted on a hard surface. The text of the post read:
We Love You, Leo Messi. 🇮🇱💙
This is how the post looked on the X platform at the time of writing:
However, both these images are altered.
The image of Messi with the Palestinian flag was originally posted on May 10, 2021, to advertise a special collection of his jerseys sold through Icons.com, a company that sells authentic signed sports memorabilia. In the picture, he is holding up a sign with the Icons.com logo on it. A screenshot of the Instagram post (archived here) published on Messi's official account featuring the image is included below:
The image of Messi with the Israeli flag was originally taken in September 2023 to be included in a promotional campaign from Icons.com. In the picture, he is holding up a sign with the Icons.com logo on it. A screenshot from the campaign's series of photos (archived here) that includes the image is below:
Both the original images predate the 2023 Hamas-Israel conflict, which began on October 7, 2023.
Other Lead Stories articles on claims pertaining to the 2023 Hamas-Israel conflict are here.