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Floyd Shivambu’s latest ‘Messi’ faux pas

  • NicolaFloyd
South African anti-Israel lobbyists and high ranking politicians latched onto a fake Lionel Messi tweet last week as if it was the gospel truth, not bothering to correct it when the truth came out.
by NICOLA MILTZ | Jun 14, 2018

The so-called comment by the much-adored Argentina football star followed his teams’ shock withdrawal from last weekend’s pre-World Cup friendly against Israel. In the tweet, Lionel Messi is falsely quoted as refusing to play against “people who kill innocent Palestinian children”.

Social media accounts shared the fake report, according to which Messi told the TyC Sports channel in an interview: “As a Unicef ambassador, I cannot play against people who kill innocent Palestinian children, we had to cancel the match because we are human beings before being football players.”

The comments, however, were soon debunked as fake, but the damage was done after it spread like wildfire through international BDS tentacles, including those in South Africa. There is no evidence that Messi made the statement.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Deputy President Floyd Shivambu, an outspoken anti-Israel lobbyist, was quick to re-tweet a post by Football Tweets which quoted the fake Messi comment. Football Tweets received 9 832 re-tweets and more than 15 000 likes for it. Football Tweets, which explicitly states on its banner that it doesn’t “claim to own any content” that it posts, has more than 350 000 followers and tweets things like soccer jokes and videos.

At around 03:00 on 6 July, Shivambu re-tweeted the Football Tweet and got 1 753 re-tweets and 4 095 likes. His colleague at the EFF, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, put out a matching tweet on [email protected], which was picked up by BDS South Africa on 7 July at 09:46. It received 1 411 retweets and 4 216 likes.

Neither BDS nor the EFF has bothered to remove the fake tweets.

Shivambu’s Messi faux pas coincides with other prejudiced behaviour displayed in recent days.

The EFF Chief Whip landed himself in hot water last week following a racist tirade in Parliament against Treasury Deputy Director General Ismail Momoniat. He questioned Momoniat’s constant presence in finance committee meetings, accusing him of undermining “African” officials at Treasury.

Shivambu was named by the Sunday Times as the “Mampara of the Week” last week, which was met with some tweets referring to him rather as the “Mampara of the Millennium”. He is accused of being a serial offender, who has yet to answer for assaulting a journalist in the parliamentary precinct.

Shivambu’s race-baiting of Momoniat because he is “not African” has drawn sharp criticism. A furious Finance Committee Chairperson, Yunus Carrim, lashed out saying that Momoniat was a veteran in the struggle against apartheid.

However, nobody has tackled him on his fake Messi tweet.

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