The for­ward took the field in the Argenti­na nation­al team’s match and helped them win, but every­one is dis­cussing the con­flict that occurred on the field.

The Argenti­na nation­al team played anoth­er qual­i­fy­ing match for the World Cup, defeat­ing the team from Paraguay with a score of 1:0. Lionel Mes­si has not played recent­ly due to injury and only entered the field in the sec­ond half.

He did not score any goals, and the only goal was scored from a cor­ner by defend­er Nico­las Ota­men­di in the third minute of the match. But the news of the vic­to­ry was over­shad­owed by an unpleas­ant inci­dent that occurred on the field, where Mes­si got into a fight with an oppos­ing play­er.

Messi was spat in the back during a match

The most noto­ri­ous was an inci­dent that was far from sports: Paraguayan Anto­nio Sanabria appeared to spit at Mes­si dur­ing a game when the Argen­tine had his back to him. The episode occurred after a ver­bal alter­ca­tion and was broad­cast, caus­ing con­tro­ver­sy.

It seemed to many that Sanabria delib­er­ate­ly spat at Mes­si. More­over, he did this after the con­flict, when the oppo­nent had already turned away:

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After the match, Mes­si talked to reporters and did not crit­i­cize the Paraguayan nation­al team play­er: “To be hon­est, I didn’t see it. I was told in the lock­er room that some­one spat on me. I don’t know who he is

Mes­si also asked not to pay much atten­tion to the sit­u­a­tion, so as not to give PR to the Paraguayan. Many were sur­prised that Mes­si does not know who Sanabria is. Foot­ball play­er spent four years of his youth career at Barcelona — at the same time as Mes­si.

In 2012 Sanabria he even trained with the first team, and then played for Roma and oth­er clubs in Italy. And also for Sport­ing Gijon and Real Betis in Spain. Sanabria cur­rent­ly plays for Tori­no and scored 12 goals in Serie A last sea­son — he is a fair­ly well-known foot­baller.

At the same time Sanabria denies spit­ting on Mes­si. He assures that he had no mali­cious intent, because the Argen­tine was far away: “I saw the pho­to. It looks like I spat on him, but that’s not true. I was away, so I com­plete­ly deny it.”

Messi himself spat on the field — Guardiola criticized him for this

In 2008, young Mes­si him­self became a par­tic­i­pant in a sim­i­lar episode. Then the strik­er was scold­ed by coach Pep Guardi­o­la for spit­ting at mid­field­er Duda. Barcelona beat Mala­ga 4–1, and Mes­si spat at an oppo­nent who had fouled him.

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Guardi­o­la said this was unac­cept­able behav­ior. At the same time, Duda him­self doubt­ed Messi’s mali­cious intent: “I have noth­ing to say about this. I don’t want to make a whole sto­ry out of this episode. I’m being com­plete­ly hon­est with you. I don’t think Mes­si spat in my direc­tion.”

In 2013, the sit­u­a­tion repeat­ed itself, although it was no longer as clear-cut. It seemed to many that in the der­by against Real Madrid, Mes­si first spat in the direc­tion of the Madrid fans, and then the oppos­ing bench­es as he passed by.

After the inci­dent with Sanabria, many remem­bered these actions of Mes­si, believ­ing that kar­ma repaid him years lat­er. The foot­baller has not played in the Unit­ed States recent­ly, and his Inter Mia­mi team did not reach the MLS play­offs.