Is Lionel Messi losing it?
The charismatic Argentinean first head-butted his Roma opponent, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, and then grabbed him by the throat. Barcelona won 3-0
The usually cool-as-cucumber Messi has been red-carded just once in his international career—on his debut.
The Barca player escaped with a warning from the referee this time.
What is going on?
The Argentinean wasn’t exactly pleased with his performances during the Copa America where his team came close to winning the title only to lose to hosts Chile in the final.
This is the second time Messi has missed out on much-coveted silverware while representing his country. The first was the 2014 World Cup when Argentina drew a blank against Germany in the title round.
The reaction in the Argentine press has not been complimentary with questions about his greatness as a player and commitment to the national squad surfacing.
This despite the diminutive genius being adjudged the best player in both tournaments. There is no doubt that Messi is the best player on the planet.
Is he meeting his own exalted standards and expectations?
Diego Maradona was swift to launch a broadside at Messi’s feats in the South American tourney.
“It’s logical to fall, it is easy. We have the best player in the world, one who can go and score four goals on Real Sociedad and then he comes here and doesn’t score at all. You would say, but man, are you Argentine or Swedish? We need to stop busting on the folks who say that we should baby Messi. Messi needs to be treated just like we treat all the other players who put on the national team uniform. He is the best in the world, for better or worse. But look, he didn’t kill or rape anyone. Let’s not turn this into a soap opera.”
Messi’s grandfather, Antonio Cuccitini, was even more caustic.
“Some of him was there. Triumphs are the greatest things there are. But the last three games he was bad. He was lazy.”
More recently, the Human Rights Foundation criticized Messi for hobnobbing with abusers of children’s rights.
Messi laid the foundation stone for a venue for the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 together with Gabon dictator Ali Bongo.
France Football claimed that he was paid 2.4 million GBP to make the trip.
Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen said:
“In providing PR services to Gabon’s Bongo family, Lionel Messi has seriously undermined the credibility of his own charitable foundation. Whereas Messi claims to support children’s rights, and even serves as a UNICEF ambassador to promote youth education, he has endorsed a kleptocratic regime that refuses to investigate the ritual murder of children in Gabon.Messi’s trip is part of the Bongo family’s PR campaign to promote the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, which Gabon will host at enormous expense despite the fact that the Bongo family’s embezzlement has left 20 per cent of the population to live on less than $2 per day.”
Is it all adding to the pressure on the AlbiCeleste forward?
Or is this latest incident merely an aberration, a blot on a stellar record?
Still waters run deep.
Are we witnessing a rebirth of Messi as a firebrand on the field?
The speculation continues.
What he said:
“We want to prove to people it is not about the money. We are just here to die for the nation as we’re Ghanaians.
We are just playing with our hearts and make sure we die for the nation. So far, the players are happy with the money and everything has been resolved. What we’re thinking now, is to going to Equatorial Guinea and to die for the nation.”
Ghana Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan insists that he and his team will put their best feet forward—literally—when they take part in the African Cup of Nations. The Ghanaian team have been promised a flat fee of USD 5000 for every match they play, irrespective of the result. This is the new bonus structure instituted by the country’s sports ministry.
After initial team rumblings, both parties have arrived at an understanding with Gyan assuring his fellow countrymen that there would be no repeat of the World Cup imbroglio wherein the players refused to play their final group game against Portugal in Brazil because they had not been paid their appearance fee. The players had then demanded payment in cash.
“Before we didn’t know before we heard it in the press. During these holidays, we had to sit down with the board members and then trash out some issues and talking about the bonuses because we don’t want the Brazil issue to get in our heads right now. I think everything went on successfully. We are happy everything has been resolved. We are not thinking about any money issues now. What we are thinking about is the Africa Cup of Nations.”
What he really meant:
“We’re willing to lay down or get up for the country at the African Cup of nations. It all depends on whether we get paid to lie or die.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Money is the root of all evil. Also, all goals.”
Ten days into the soccer (or as the world prefers to term it, football) World Cup 2014 and it’s been a tale of upsets and surprises galore.
The Group of Death has witnessed sudden death for England; Costa Rica wielding the surgeon’s knife without actually playing their victims yet.
The defending champions, Spain, have done anything but defend; their citadel torn to shreds by the Dutch and the Chileans.
(I have not caught up with the games live; the interesting games are played early in the morning by Indian Standard Time (IST) but then there’s always the highlights capsule on Sony Six. A time-saver indeed and less onerous on my beauty sleep and my health.)
France appear ominous and are the current favorites by anyone’s reckoning; the Dutch struggled against the Aussies. The socceroos were plain unlucky not to have a draw on their hands. They faded out of the tournaments gloriously indeed.
Costa Rica are the surprise of the tournament; can we anoint them ‘neo’ dark horses ahead of Belgium?
Argentina and Brazil have been less than impressive; Argentina faring slightly better with Messi performing the star turn on both occasions. Neymar is no Pele yet, is he?
That’s about all for now. Enjoy your World Cup! See you again, next week, maybe!