Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo will at last tie the knot on Friday, solidifying a relationship that stretches back to when they were only five years of age in Rosario, Argentina.
Albeit quite a bit of their time together has been spent in Barcelona, there has been space for sentiment with the couple and their two kids – Thiago and Mateo – coming back to the place where they grew up for the fantastic marital occasion, due to happen on June 30.
Spanish media guarantee that the reserved backroom staff are on the list of invited guests although there was no room for the former Barca manager Luis Enrique or any of the Barcelona board members.
Andres Iniesta has reportedly turned down an invitation for obscure reasons while it has additionally been suggested that Gerard Pique won’t attend on account of the chilly relationship his wife Shakira share with Roccuzzo.
The Colombian Pop star and her better half Gerard Pique, are expected to be among the 260 welcomed visitors, as per media and locals close the occasion.
The rift, notwithstanding, was denied as of late this month with Shakira insisting they will go to the wedding on the off chance that it fits into their schedule.
‘I don’t know where that has come from, I don’t understand it at all on the grounds that everybody has regularly seen us together,’ Shakira said while promoting her new album. ‘if we can go to their wedding, we will go.’
They will join old companions of the couple and footballers, such as Barcelona strike partners Luis Suarez and Neymar.
From 2200 GMT the guests will pack into the Hotel City-Center Casino, which stands right next to a crime-ridden slum run by drug gangs.
“Messi’s wedding accentuates the sense of inequality that is symbolised by the casino in that neighbourhood,” said Carlos del Frade, author of several books on the drug trade in Rosario.
This city of 1.2 million people is also a cradle of footballing talent, however.
“Rosario lives and breathes football. That is another reason Lionel feels so comfortable here,” the city’s mayor, Monica Fein, told AFP.
“I think he is excited that through his wedding his friends (from abroad) will be able to get to know the city he loves so much.”
– Local delicacies –
The civil wedding ceremony and the party will all take place inside the venue, and the guests will be lodged there too.
Messi, 30 — considered a man of few words — has reportedly asked chefs to cook local delicacies such as “locro” stew and “empanada” pasties for the feast.
The star dish is a typical Argentine beef roast including chitterlings, gizzards and kidneys.
Uruguayan pop bands Rombai and Marama plus singer Karina, wife of Argentina footballer Sergio Aguero, will perform at the dance.
It is not known whether the guests will also get a song from Shakira, the Colombian diva famous for “Whenever, Wherever.”
– Tight security and media scrum –
Some 155 journalists have been accredited to cover the bash, but have been warned they will have no access to the guests.
Security will be handled by a private team of Israeli specialists used by Messi for all his excursions.
“In Lionel Messi’s case, he’s widely accepted by the people at all levels,” said Diego Manso, a local private security consultant.
“All the same, the security systems will never overlook the probability of a lot of people wanting to approach him, wanting to touch him, take photos with him, from their risk analysis.”
Messi and Roccuzzo live in Barcelona where he plays but still returns regularly to Rosario on holiday.
The couple had their two children baptised there last year: Thiago, 4 and one-year-old Mateo, both born in Barcelona.
“It’s no surprise that he is coming back here to get married,” one of the wedding guests, the player’s old school friend Diego Vallejos, told AFP.
“He is an ordinary person who just wants to be near his family and friends. He is a humble person. Money has not changed his personality.”
Messi and Roccuzzo met as children. He moved to Spain when he was 13 to join FC Barcelona. But they kept in touch.
“They are the love of each other’s lives,” says Vallejos.