My Idol Let Me Down

I like to think of myself as a supporter of human rights and a fan of soccer, so reading in news via The Telegraph that one of the greatest players to ever grace a soccer field, Lionel Messi had attended a stadium opening in Gabon shocked me deeply. The Human Rights Foundation has been vocal in publicizing this story, which saw Argentinian Messi arrive as a personal guest of Gabon’s President Ali Bongo. The problem for the Human Rights Foundation lay in the fact the Bongo family have held control of the Central African country since 1967 and are accused of being little more than dictators.

The Human Rights Foundation has made it a priority to inform the general public of political groups and individuals who are taking away or stifling the human rights of people around the world. Established in 2005 by Venezuelan filmmaker Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, the organization has become a major force in global human rights following the appointment of major political figures and globally recognized human rights activists to its board. The Human Rights Foundation accepts donations, but explains to donors a monetary donation does not mean an individual or organization has any right to direct how their funds are spent.

The key problems identified by the Human Rights Foundation and a number of other human rights groups include the fact the Bongo family and other leading officials in the Gabon have been linked to the disappearance of a number of children in the country. Reports have stated children have been subjected to ritualistic abuse and rumored cannibalism has taken place in events involving members of the Gabon government. As a UNICEF children’s ambassador FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has positioned himself alongside a group of people whose legal and moral compasses have been called into question in the most controversial way. The Human Rights Foundation has condemned the trip by Messi and his decision to lay a ceremonial stone of the site of the Port-Gentil Stadium, which will host games at the 2017 African Cup of Nations that will be held in the controversial African country.

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