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‘What are you looking at, fool?’ – Lionel Messi takes aim at Weghorst, Van Gaal, and referee after World Cup quarterfinal win

Tempers were running high after an ill-disciplined display from both teams led to a second half full of clashes and conflicts.

Argentina's Lionel Messi scores a penalty during a penalty shootout. (Reuters)
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Following Argentina’s fiery penalty shootout win over Netherlands in the quarterfinal of the World Cup, tempers flared between the players and coaching staff of the two teams. While Lionel Messi, man of the match on the day with a goal and an assist, was doing an interview with TyC Sports after the game, he had a run-in with Wout Weghorst, scorer of both Dutch goals to get them back into the game.

“What are you looking at, fool? Go away,” Messi was quoted as saying by the television channel. The Argentine skipper added that he did not feel ‘respected’ by the opposition on the day, not even by their coach Louis van Gaal, then took a dig at the Dutch manager’s philosophy.

“I don’t like to talk before the games. Since he entered the game, he began to provoke us, bump into us, tell us things… It seems to me that this is not part of football. I always respect everyone, I like that they respect me too. Their coach was not respectful to us,” he said. “We suffer too unfairly. Van Gaal sells that he plays football and then puts tall people in and began to hit balls.”

Weghorst was eventually crowded out by a host of Argentine players, including Lisandro Martinez, Lautaro Martinez, and former striker Sergio Aguero, who was also in the dugout. Aguero recounted the episode to the channel: “We were just entering. He started to say: ‘Hey, Messi, hey, Messi’. And Leo turned around, look at him… That’s when he told him that. The guy told him ‘come here ‘ (‘I came’).”

“I tell him to shut up… He told me: ‘You don’t say shut up’ (‘don’t tell me to shut up’). I tell him: ‘Okay, you don’t talk to Messi’,” the former Manchester City striker added.

Argentina were comfortably leading 2-0 after Nahuel Molina’s first-half strike, and Messi’s second-half penalty, but after Van Gaal’s substitutions, Netherlands pulled one back in the 83rd minute. The Albiceleste became a bit panicked following that goal, and after Leandro Paredes rocketed a clearance right into the Dutch bench, the two teams clashed multiple times in a game that became increasingly edgy. Argentina could not handle the pressure, conceding a last-minute goal from a well-worked Netherlands set piece to take the game into extra time, and later penalties.

Referee Mateu Lahoz ended up brandishing a total of 17 yellow cards to players and staff, without sending any player off. It was a World Cup record. After the game, Messi also took aim at Lahoz, claiming he was not fit to take charge of a game of the magnitude of a World Cup quarterfinal.

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“I don’t want to talk about the referee because they punish you later, you can’t be honest, but I think FIFA should think about all this. You can’t put a referee like that for a similar match, a World Cup quarterfinal”,” he said to TyC Sports.

First published on: 10-12-2022 at 11:20 IST
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