The answer is, no, obviously not. That would be stupid. But we can't ignore it, because at least one entity is buying into the conspiracy theory that Messi, Pedro and their Barcelona teammates are sending hidden messages to the Syrian resistance via their on-field play in a recent Clásico: Syrian State TV.

In the second leg of a Copa Del Rey match against Real Madrid in January, Messi made one of his patented Messi runs, dribbling through and around trouble and finding Pedro inside the box to slot it home. Another piece of mastery, but according to state-run TV station Addounia, the whole thing was staged to show Syrian rebels watching at home the best route for smuggling guns into war-torn Syria.

Here's how it works, according to Addounia: when superimposed on a map, the movement of the ball matches an overland route from Lebanon, through Homs, to the eastern city of Al Mayadin. Sure, it doesn't match exactly, and you need to keep shifting the map to keep up with the camera, but's let's indulge them for a second.

The center line is the Lebanese border. That seems logical. When Messi receives the pass from midfield, he's representing the origins of the arms on the black market in Lebanon, which has exploded since the resistance began. He is swarmed by Real Madrid defenders, and he takes a circuitous route north and west to Homs, which has been a focal point of the uprising. These defenders, too, must be in on the conspiracy, because they represent the difficulties in smuggling arms through the heavily populated, pro-Assad west.

Narrates the newsreader,

Then they pass through Homs and are delivered to another terrorist. We also see how they warn that they will face some obstacles until they reach Dayr Al Zawr.

Messi overcomes those obstacles with a through pass ahead of Pedro, who sends it to the back of the net, clearly telling the rebels, according to the commentator, "they are transported by bus to the final destination, located in Al Mayadin."

Are Messi And Barcelona Sending Secret Messages To Help Rebels Smuggle Guns Into Syria?S

There are two competing theories on how this nefarious scheme was exposed to the world by the vigilant Syrian government. The first is that the secret message was orchestrated by the Qatar Foundation, which sponsors Barça's kits. The Syrian uprising is playing out on largely sectarian lines, with mostly Sunni rebels fighting an Alawite government. The Qatar Foundation is a non-profit organization chartered and funded by the Sunni state of Qatar. Hmmm.

The second explanation is the one accepted by pretty much all right-thinking people. That the video was created as a gag or an attempt to embarrass the Syrian leadership, which played right into it by broadcasting it as fact. A brilliant plan, then, because everybody knows there's nothing Messi can't do if he wants to.

Lionel Messi accused of sending signals to Syria rebels [Independent]