Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates will boycott the media because of accusations made against striker Ezequiel Lavezzi.
“We’re here to say that we are not going to speak anymore with the press,” Messi said after Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Colombia in World Cup qualifying. “We receive a lot of accusations, a lot of disrespect. The accusations against Lavezzi are very serious.”
The boycott stems in part from a report by an Argentine journalist that Lavezzi smoked marijuana during the team’s training camp.
Lavezzi has said he would “initiate legal proceedings” against the reporter.
He was not included in the squad on Tuesday, a key victory that keeps Argentina in the chase to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Argentina, runner-up two years ago at the World Cup, has also been criticized for its poor play so far in World Cup qualifying.
The Barcelona forward did not say how long the boycott could last. He also apologized to some reporters.
“We’re sorry it has to be this way, but there is no other option,” Messi said, flanked by teammates and holding a microphone.
“I know many of you aren’t like that, not disrespectful. You can lose or win, you can have an opinion that we played well, or we played poorly; whatever takes place on the field, but not entering into personal accusations like this.”