Sep 3, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; A young fan is intercepted by security after running onto the field to hug Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) during the second half at BMO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A fan sprinted on the field Sunday right at star Lionel Messi during Inter Miami’s MLS match at Los Angeles FC.

Luckily, Messi’s bodyguard was faster, as he intercepted the fan just as he reached Messi. The bodyguard wrestled him away and handed him over to security.

The fan, wearing colors from Messi’s longtime team, Barcelona, may have just been wanting to hug the international star. But anyone who remembers the terrible on-court stabbing of tennis star Monica Seles 30 years ago this year knows that these encounters can turn tragic.

Messi’s bodyguard, Yassine Chueko, has become somewhat of a celebrity in his own right. A former Navy Seal who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s a martial arts expert who has competed in MMA events.

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham hired Chueko to protect Messi from overzealous fans — or worse — and everything definitely went according to plan Sunday.

Messi had two assists in Inter Miami’s 3-1 victory. Not surprisingly, the LAFC crowd featured dozens of celebrities, from Leonardo DiCaprio to Prince Harry.

The sports world quickly reacted to the incident.

[Centre Goals]




About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.