A rather unusual incident took place shortly before Argentina’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Bolivia earlier this week.
Alejandro Chumacero, Bolivia’s captain, walked over to shake hands with the Argentina team but was denied by his counterpart, Lionel Messi.
Chumacero has now explained the reason behind Messi’s snub and it turns out there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.
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"The fourth official told me that it was time to do the handshakes but the national anthem had not finished,” the 24-year-old, who plies his trade for The Strongest, was quoted as saying by Sport. “It was his error and a story that will remain!"
Messi looked slightly embarrassed at having to turn Chumacero away, not to mention confused as to why Bolivia had started to walk over before the Argentine national anthem had finished.
Video: Messi snubs Chumacero's handshake
But the mild-mannered Barcelona superstar didn’t react badly.
He gave away his shirt to veteran striker Carlos Saucedo after the match, which finished 2-0 to Argentina.
Messi scores 50th goal for Argentina
Messi scored from the penalty spot on the half-hour mark, bringing his tally to 50 goals for his country.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner now needs seven more to surpass Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Messi desperate to win major honour with Argentina
Messi is desperate to win a major trophy with his country before he retires.
The 28-year-old went agonisingly close to lifting the World Cup in 2014, only for Germany to win the final in extra-time, and then lost the final of the Copa America in Chile a year later.
This summer, Messi will have another chance to win his first major honour with Argentina - with the exception of the gold medal he won at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing - as the Copa America marks its centenary.
"Always, all the matches with the national team are the priority," Messi was quoted as saying by ESPN back in December. "With this club and individually I have had the good luck to have won everything. With the national team I also want to win something.
“I think we have a chance because the Copa America [Centenario] will be something beautiful, different from the others and the conditions will be spectacular. The World Cup, the Copa America, at some point we have to win a trophy."
"Because of what happened we have had a tough time on the national team," he added. "We were lucky to reach the final of the World Cup and another at the Copa America and it is discussed as though we hadn't done anything. And we keep hearing people criticising us. We didn't win? No we didn't but it is not like we lost in the round of 16. We got to the final. And because of that, when we get a new chance, we don't know whether it will be better or worse, or whether we will keep suffering."
Will Lionel Messi inspire Argentina to glory at the Copa America this summer? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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