Football

Messi to marry childhood sweetheart today in football's wedding of the decade

Football and showbiz stars gather in northern Argentina today for Latin America's celebrity wedding bash of the decade when Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi marries his childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo.

Pop star Shakira and her husband, Messi's teammate Gerard Pique, are expected among the 260 guests, according to media and locals close to the event.

They will join old friends of the couple and footballers such as his Barcelona strike partners Luis Suarez and Neymar.

The party at a casino in his hometown Rosario will be a respite for the player from his legal woes.

A Spanish court last month rejected his appeal against a conviction for tax fraud.

Roccuzzo, 29, will wear a dress by Spanish designer Rosa Clara, which has been flown over from Barcelona.

The wedding ceremony and party will take place inside the Hotel City-Center Casino, which stands right next to a crime-ridden slum run by drug gangs.

Messi, 30, 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 ceremony.

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.

Messi and Roccuzzo met as children. He moved to Spain when he was 13 to join Barcelona. But they kept in touch.

The couple have two sons - Thiago, 4, and one-year-old Mateo, both born in Barcelona. - AFP

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