Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi has strongly criticized the treatment of Argentine fans by the Brazilian police during the 2026 World Cup qualification match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The match held last Sunday witnessed tensions not limited to the green field. The heated atmosphere escalated when Brazilian police were involved in an incident resulting in what Argentine supporters deemed unfair treatment.
Messi, the captain of the Argentine team, expressed his disappointment with the incident. In the post-match press conference, Messi emphasized that football should be a tool to unite people from different backgrounds, not to divide them.
“We came here to play football and provide entertainment to the fans. I cannot accept the treatment of our supporters off the pitch. This does not reflect the sportsmanship and friendship values that football should uphold,” Messi said firmly.
The President of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), Claudio Tapia, also condemned the incident, labeling it as inappropriate. “We respect the hosts, but this is a boundary that should not be crossed. We hope that similar actions will not occur in the future,” said Tapia.
The incident has sparked heated discussions on social media, with football fans worldwide condemning the actions of the Brazilian police. Some have called on the international football governing body, FIFA, to intervene and ensure the safety and fair treatment of supporters in every match.
FIFA itself has not provided an official comment on the incident. However, football observers hope that the organization will take decisive steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
The 2026 World Cup qualification matches in South America have garnered international attention, not only due to the fierce competition on the field but also because of the tensions off the pitch that need to be addressed promptly to maintain the integrity of the sport of football.