FIFA can’t verify Zambia’s claims over Messi record

FIFA can’t verify Zambia’s claims over Messi record

FIFA can’t verify Zambia’s claims over Messi record

World football’s governing body, FIFA, dismisses claims by Zambia that Gerd Müller’s goal record, which was broken by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi last week, actually belongs to the late African striker Godfrey Chitalu. AFP photo

World football’s governing body said that it was unable to check whether claims that an African footballer and not Argentina star Lionel Messi was the record holder for the most goals scored in a calendar year.

“Thanks for the questions about Godfrey Chitalu. Our official stats are limited to FIFA competitions, so we cannot verify this ‘record’,” FIFA’s communications department said on its Twitter account @fifamedia.

“We keep records for all FIFA competitions,” it added.

Barcelona forward Messi was hailed by many as the greatest player ever in the game after he scored twice last week to beat the 40-year-old record of Germany’s Gerd Mueller and take his tally to 86 for 2012.

But claims emerged on Dec. 13 that he may still in fact be well short of Zambia legend Chitalu, who netted 107 times - 49 in league matches for Kabwe Warriors and 58 in cup and internationals - between January 23 and December 10, 1972.

A photograph of a smiling Chitalu, dressed in a suit and holding a ball inscribed with “1972 Godfrey Chitalu 107 goals” has been widely circulated on the Internet.

Yet there have also been claims that his name was raised by jealous supporters of Real Madrid to prevent the record going to a Barcelona player.

Zambian commentator Musonda Chibulu and researcher Jerry Muchimba compiled their data from daily newspapers and the national archives.

A similar challenge had already been contested by Brazil’s Flamengo, who insisted that their former player, Zico, scored 89 times in the 1979 season.