In January 2016, headlines from various corporate media like the CBC, Aljazeera, CNN, and others reported on a little boy from Afghanistan who wore an Argentina football jersey made out of plastic bag. However, not much was reported about his brother who made the jersey.
Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi and his 15-year-old brother Homayoun live in the war-torn Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul in Afghanistan. Murtaza wanted to be like Lionel Messi, so his brother used a blue and white striped plastic bag and made it into a jersey with the name Messi written on it. A Facebook picture of Murtaza wearing the jersey went viral and caught the attention of Lionel Messi.
Headlines from Al Jazeera on February 1, 2016 read, “Afghan ‘plastic bag boy’ excited about Messi meeting.” Huffington Post Canada the same day headlined, “Murtaza Ahmadi, Boy Who Wears Plastic Bag Jersey, Will Get To Meet Lionel Messi,” while Global News Canada’s report was “Young Afghan boy with Messi jersey made of plastic bag will meet his idol.”
Almost all the headlines on this story from corporate media were about the boy meeting his soccer idol, not about the invention. If it weren’t that Lionel Messi had arranged to meet Murtaza, we would probably not have heard about the little boy’s passion, nor his brother’s invention.
Homayoun’s creativity and invention was underreported by the corporate media, and the fact that he was able to do something unique as that from a war-torn country makes it worthy of coverage from the mainstream media. Coverage focused merely on the soccer star meeting a fan, and missed the real story.
Jessica Chin, “Murtaza Ahmadi, Boy Who Wears Plastic Bag Jersey, Will Get To Meet Lionel Messi.” The Huffington Post Canada, February 1, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/02/01/murtaza-ahmadi-lionel-messi_n_9132004.html
Rebecca Joseph, “Young Afghan boy with Messi jersey made of plastic bag will meet his idol.” Global News, February 1, 2016, http://globalnews.ca/news/2490022/young-afghan-boy-with-messi-jersey-made-of-plastic-bag-will-meet-his-idol/
Shereena Qazi, “Afghan ‘plastic bag boy’ excited about Messi meeting.” Aljazeera, February 1, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/afghan-boy-messi-bag-shirt-excited-meeting-160201072656464.html
Student researcher: Osobade Busayo (University of Regina)
Faculty evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)