Young Afghan soccer fan, Murtaza Ahmadi, who shot to fame after he was photographed in a Messi shirt made from a plastic bag has now become a target of the Taliban. The young boy, aged 7, who became a global sensation for his devotion to football superstar Lionel Messi now lives in fear of being kidnapped or killed by the Taliban.
Ahmadi met Messi in a brief visit to Qatar last year. But since then his problems have mounted as the Taliban, in November, invaded the district of Jaghori in Ghazni province where he grew up. His family was also threatened repeatedly.
“The Taliban were killing our relatives and they were searching houses. They would stop cars and kill their passengers, searching houses and killing people,” Ahmadi was quoted as saying by CNN.
“We were not allowed to play football by the Taliban or even go out of the house,” he said before adding, “We used to hear the sound of heavy machine guns, and Kalashnikovs, and rockets at home. We also heard people screaming.”
Ahmadi’s mother also reiterated that they became a target for threats, due to the fame.
“From the day Murtaza became famous, life became difficult for our family,” says Shafiqa. “Not only the Taliban, but some other groups also started thinking that Messi might have given him a lot of money. We stopped sending him to school, and we were being threatened all the time.”
Eventually they also had to leave their hometown and escape to the nearby city of Bamyan.
“Last time I saw my father was on the first day we came here,” Ahmadi said. “Then he went back, and I haven’t seen him since then. I miss him very much. When he calls my mother I also talk to him.”
“It would have been better if Murtaza hadn’t gained fame,” Ahmadi’s mother said. “Now our lives are at risk both in our hometown and here in Kabul. He spends all of his time here inside the house.”