FIFA has announced that football at all levels — from the amateur ranks to the top professional leagues — is canceled until Lionel Messi recovers from his hamstring injury. The winner of the last four consecutive Ballon d'Or awards was forced to exit Barcelona's 4-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday and will be out for six to eight weeks. During that time, football's governing body has decided that the entire sport will be shut down.
"If Messi cannot play, no one should play," said FIFA president Sepp Blatter at a press conference to announce the historic decision. "He is the best footballer in the world and a boy any parent would want. Football needs his wonderful smile and until he is fit again, it will go on hiatus. It is like how the NBA closed when Michael Jordan retired for the fifth time."
Blatter continued: "We have reached agreements with governments around the world and if anyone, whether they are a child or a professional, is caught playing the game before Messi is able to score goals and bring joy, they will suffer very severe consequences."
When asked to elaborate on those consequences, Blatter, who controversially revealed his preference for Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo two weeks ago, made a throat cutting motion.
The news of Messi's injury has impacted this year's Ballon d'Or award voting, which ends November 15. The likes of Ronaldo and Franck Ribery were expected to give Messi a run, but this development has only helped the Argentine's chances of a record fifth straight win.
"I wasn't going to vote for Messi again," said Panama captain Felipe Baloy. "But after seeing him get hurt I have changed my vote. This means he is definitely human, which makes everything he does even more amazing. Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo and the others are playing very well, but by not playing, Messi shows just how much better he truly is."
When reached for comment, Cristiano Ronaldo said, "F*** everything."
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