Lionel Messi’s Iranian doppelganger Reza Parastesh has denied tricking 23 women in his native country into sleeping with him after taking on the Argentine football icon’s identity to seduce them.
Spanish sports publications Marca circulated the accusations earlier this week that Parastesh had told the women he was in fact Barcelona’s all-time top scorer, which could be classified as ‘rape by deception’, illegal in some countries.
Parastesh has since addressed the issue on his Instagram page, where the ‘fake Messi’ insisted the claims were “fake news” that could harm his “reputation and credibility”, and claimed he would be seeking legal action in response.
“Hi guys, a false and dummy news is being trended in social media with the subject of raping 23 girls by me, please do not play with people’s reputation and credibility,” the 26-year-old wrote to his near 700,000 followers.
“All of us is [sic] aware of the fact that if it happened to someone there would be some complaint and it leads to prosecution. That’s a disaster and calamity and would be [an] international issue (23 cases).
“If this news was true I would be in jail right now; I’m going to pursue this news from the legal administration definitely and I want the police to find the source of this fake news and announce [it to] the public.”
Parastesh first began his Messi-lookalike career after encouragement from his father, dressing in a football kit and taking photos, after which one particular snap went viral.
“The first time that I seriously decided to take a photo with sports clothes and introduce myself as the double of Messi, my father encouraged me, He said – do it,” Parastesh explained.
Parastesh’s verified Instagram account features pictures and videos imitating the five-time Balon d’Or winner in various poses, such as on team posters, and video messages to the star himself. as well as one surprise meeting with Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
His superstitious dad wasn’t always supportive. After Messi scored a late goal for Argentina to knock Iran out of the 2014 World Cup, he warned his son not to even come to the family home.
“Messi scored a goal in the final minutes, prompting Iran’s exit from the World Cup. My father is a football fan, so he called me and told me ‘don’t come home tonight’ because he thought that I scored that goal. He didn’t let me come home,” he recalled.