Those familiar with Messi’s charitable work instantly recognized the reference to his and Barcelona’s #ParaLosValientes (“For the Brave”) campaign, which aims raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer. In an ad for the campaign released in February, Messi appears with black war paint on his face in place of the reflections of three children battling the disease.
The goal of the campaign is to eventually raise enough money — roughly $30 million — to build a state-of-the-art medical center at Barcelona’s Sant Joan de Deu hospital.
As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $4 million, or roughly 13 percent of the goal. Undoubtedly, Messi’s high-profile celebration will lead to additional donations, as well.
After Wednesday’s game, Messi sent a message to his fans promoting the initiative.
“I challenge you all to paint your faces #ParaLosValientes,” he wrote. “Because we can all help to make the building of a Pediatric Cancer Center a reality, so that many more children around the world can receive treatment using the latest medical advances.”