Lionel Messi was the perfect captain both on and off the pitch for Argentina last night.
During their match against Colombia, the Barcelona superstar was in sensational form. He scored a superb free-kick and produced two brilliant assists during the 3-0 victory.
But to be a captain for your national team, you need more than just good performances. You need to be an example off the pitch as well.
And that’s exactly what Messi was during the post-match press conference.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner took his Argentinian teammates into the press conference with him and explained that they won’t be talking to any media outlets.
It’s because an Argentine radio journalist tweeted that Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi had been caught smoking cannabis ahead of the Colombia match.
Gabriel Anello, who works for Argentine radio station Radio Mitre, tweeted: “Lavezzi is left off the substitutes' bench tomorrow because of the joint that was smoked last night in the camp? I'm asking... just asking.”
But Messi had a message for Anello and the rest of the journalists in the room.
“We have made the decision not to talk to the press any more, obviously you know why," Messi said.
“There were a lot of accusations, a lot of disrespect, and the accusations they made against 'Pocho' (Lavezzi) are very serious.
“We know that most of you guys don't play that game of disrespect. We can be criticised if we lose, or win, or if we play well or badly. But this is getting into personal lives.
“If we don't put a stop to it now, we'll never stop it.”
And things are set to get even more serious with Hebei China Fortune winger Lavezzi set to take legal action because of the “False statements against me and the serious damage that have generated to my family and in my work.”
Fair play to Messi and co. for taking a stand against false reports. Maybe this act will discourage journalists and other outlets from making inaccurate statements in the footballing world in the future.
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