A set of images of an Iraqi photojournalist in tears is being falsely linked to footballer Lionel Messi's exit from FC Barcelona, where he played his entire career. Messi fought back tears on Sunday, August 8, 2021 while addressing a press conference where he confirmed that he is leaving Barcelona after his contract ended in June. Though Messi and Barcelona agreed to a new contract, the Spanish League did not authorise the deal as it meant Barcelona would fall foul of the financial fair play regulations that govern football clubs in Spain. The images have been captioned on facebook as, “You can feel it.”
BOOM found that images of the Iraqi photographer are from 2019. He cried after Iraq lost a football match against Qatar in the quarterfinals of 2019 AFC Asian Cup (January 2019). We found an article by Fox Sports Asia that identified the photographer as Mohammed Al Assasawi. We also found an interview of Al-Assasawi in RT Arabic about his photo going viral. The same set of images were viral when cricketer MS Dhoni lost his wicket in India's semi-final match against New Zealand in the World Cup 2019.