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Following Argentina’s victory at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in December, rumors emerged that the country’s central bank had issued, or was planning to issue, banknotes bearing the likeness of Lionel Messi. These allegations were widely shared on social media along with an image of a 1,000 peso note featuring the captain of the Argentine team. But this is wrong: the image does not represent official tickets in circulation, but was created by an artist who posted it on Instagram shortly before the World Cup final, to pay tribute to the Argentine team, as he explained to AFP. The Central Bank of Argentina also confirmed that no banknote project with the image of the player is on the agenda by the end of December 2022.
“Argentina’s central bank has released a 1,000 Argentine peso note featuring Lionel Messi and Argentina’s world champion national team“, claim Facebook publications with a total of several hundred shares in France and Africa since the end of December.
Other publications say this release is imminent or “consideredof the Central Bank of Argentina.
The same rumors spread widely in English in many countries such as India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Nepal, United States, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. They have also been relayed in many languages including Spanish (1, 2, 3, 4), Burmese, and even Korean.
All of these publications broadcast the same image of a 1,000 Argentine peso note. On one side is a celebratory image of the Argentina team, and on the other, the face of its captain during the World Cup in Qatar, Lionel Messi, author of two goals after one. shots on goal that led his team to victory in the final against France.
However, the images sent do not show an official banknote, planned or already in circulation, in Argentina.
These images do not appear on the website of the Central Bank of the Republic of Argentina (BCRA), which lists the various official banknotes.
On the other hand, we can find the images of the official banknote of 1,000 pesos, where we can see, at the end of December 2022 and the beginning of January 2023, drawings of the red horn, the national bird of Argentina.
Fernando Alonso, BCRA’s chief communications officer, told AFP on December 22, 2022 that Argentina’s Central Bank did not plan to include an image of Lionel Messi on currency after the World Cup in Qatar. “We have no plans to issue coins with Messi’s image.“, he hinted.
Where did these tickets with Messi’s effigy come from?
The first photo sent in viral posts on social media, appearing on the back of the tickets, shows the Argentina team celebrating their victory in the match between the winners of the European Championship and South America, called the Finalissima, in June 2022, and therefore has nothing to do with the World Cup final in Qatar.
We can recognize the scene in a video available on the website of UEFA, the union of European football associations, published on June 2, 2022.
A reverse image search found a second photo, showing Lionel Messi’s head, which was broadcast on December 17, 2022, one day before the World Cup final, on the Instagram account “ellseven“, which regularly shares artistic creations related to sports or sportsmen.
The post description reads: “Design of the new 1,000 Argentinian peso banknote. The Scaloneta [l’équipe argentine, dont l’entraîneur est Lionel Scaloni, NDLR] are playing perfectly in this World Cup and I had to dedicate one of my creations to them, so I spent a few days thinking, until I came up with an idea for this one, I hope it makes you happy. Tomorrow, I will do my best to encourage this choice as it should“.
AFP contacted the author of this publication, named Lautaro Rodríguez, who confirmed that he created the image of the ticket to show his support for the Argentina team.
“This design is mine. I designed it the week before the final and uploaded it the day before the final“, he explained to AFP at the end of December.After that, a video appeared on TikTok with my design, mentioning that the Central Bank was proposing this idea, which did not happen. And from this TikTok it started to go viral on all networks“, he added.
He has since posted more photos of his creation, revealing that it is being sold as “ticket collector“.
New tickets are planned, without sports numbers
If the Central Bank of Argentina therefore does not plan to produce banknotes in honor of the national football team or its captain, however, it is in the process of developing banknotes with new drawings, “which will definitely enter circulation in the second half of 2023“, his representative Fernando Alonso explained to AFP.
This series of banknotes with the image of important Argentine personalities was presented in May 2022, and does not include any athletes.
Enrique Mouján, the communications manager of the Argentine Mint, the official entity that manages, among other things, the printing of money, also considers that the banknote with the image of Lionel Messi is “obvious joke“.
The BCRA has already issued commemorative coins for several milestones, which only circulate in limited quantities. Pieces dedicated to the 2022 World Cup have been produced. However, they did not show the face of Lionel Messi or the Argentine national team, but a foot in a crampon kicking a ball.