Rosario (Argentina) (AFP) – Soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s Argentine hometown is preparing to host footballing and showbiz celebrities when he marries childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo this month in Latin America’s wedding of the decade.
Colombian popstar Shakira, wife of Messi’s Barcelona teammate Gerard Pique, has said she hopes to attend.
Media such as local Rosario newspaper La Capital also expect other current and former Barcelona stars such as Luis Suarez, Neymar, Cesc Fabregas and Xavi Hernandez to be among the invitees.
The Barcelona forward’s agents confirmed in a statement that the couple will wed in Rosario on June 30, a week after Messi’s 30th birthday.
The guest list, venue and party details are the subject of a swirl of rumors.
Sources in the city’s cathedral contacted by AFP denied reports that Messi and Roccuzzo would have a religious wedding ceremony there.
– Barcelona stars –
The couple still have friends and family in this northern city, where Messi discovered his love of football — and of his brunette future bride.
It is also where their two children were baptized — Thiago, 4 and one-year-old Mateo, both born in Barcelona.
Some media predicted 600 guests, but La Capital said no more than 250 were expected, including 21 Barcelona players.
National newspaper Clarin said Argentine singer Karina, wife of Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, will be a guest and also hired to sing at the wedding.
A source in the city hall told AFP it was considering security measures for the crowd of major football stars visiting.
“Messi always moves around naturally in the city, but we have to gauge the implications of the arrival of world football stars in Rosario,” the source said.
In a country where football and politics are closely linked, the wedding planner is reported to be Barbara Diez, the wife of a close ally of President Mauricio Macri.
– Spanish-designed dress –
La Capital said the bride would wear a dress by Spanish designer Rosa Clara.
Some 20 hairdressers will be hired for the guests, it reported.
As wedding gifts, the couple have reportedly asked for donations to the player’s children’s charity, the Leo Messi Foundation.
Shakira recently denied rumors that she would miss the wedding due to a quarrel with Roccuzzo.
“If I can go to her wedding, we will go, because Gerard and Leo have been friends since they were little,” she said in an interview on Argentina program Telenoche.