BUENOS AIRES – Lionel Messi has donated half a million euros to help hospitals in his native Argentina fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buenos Aires-based foundation Casa Garrahan said the funds – around 540,000 US dollars – would be used to buy protective equipment for health professionals.

“We are very grateful for this recognition of our workforce, allowing us to continue our commitment to Argentinian public health,” Casa Garrahan executive director Silvia Kassab said in a statement.

The Barcelona forward’s gesture allowed the foundation to purchase respirators, infusion pumps and computers for hospitals in Santa Fe and Buenos Aires provinces, as well as the autonomous city of Buenos Aires.

The statement added that high-frequency ventilation equipment and other protective gear would be delivered to the hospitals shortly.

In April, Messi and his Barcelona teammates reduced their salary by 70% and pledged to make additional financial contributions to ensure the club’s staff continued receiving 100% of their salary during football’s coronavirus shutdown. 

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