FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has landed in hot water after inviting his teammates to a barbecue party at his home last Monday. The Public Health Agency of Catalonia has reportedly opened a case against the footballer for violating the COVID-19 health and safety protocols that are currently in place in the region.

All of the Barcelona players who attended the gathering tested negative in antigen tests and are still constantly being tested before and after matches as part of La Liga protocols. However, the fact that they attended a gathering with their respective spouses and partners still goes against regulations which only allow a maximum of six people to come together and only in an open space.

An investigation has been launched to determine if the barbecue breached the COVID-19 regulations and if any sanctions are warranted. Marca reports that the Catalan government has largely left the case at the hands of the Public Health Agency, but that did not stop several officials from voicing their opinions.

Mertixell Budo, counsellor to the presidency, reiterated that only six people are allowed to gather. The exact number of guests during Messi's gathering has not been confirmed, although they may be able to skirt the issue if they use the technicality that there were only six people "per table."

Pere Aragones, acting president, slammed the high profile footballers for not setting a good example. "We want to appeal to everyone, not only to comply with the measures. People with public responsibility should do so more intensely because they set an example."

So far, the whole squad tested negative on Wednesday, and will continue to be monitored for the rest of the season. Barcelona will be hosting Atletico Madrid on Saturday in a crucial match that could potentially determine this season's La Liga champions.

Messi and de Jong
Lionel Messi with Frenkie de Jong AFP / Marco BERTORELLO