Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi (Credits: Twitter)

After Canelo Alvarez steered controversy by criticising Argentina captain Lionel Messi for disrespecting Mexico during their clash at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Mexican boxer has now been on the receiving end. Many have slammed Canelo for his irresponsible comments, with former Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo now joining the tirade. The Fluminense player has defended as a ‘respectful’ man, giving back the stick to Canelo.

The boxer had alleged last week that the Argentina captain disrespected Mexico after their game, by ‘wiping’ the floor with their shirt. Messi put on a magic show against the El Tri, as Argentina needed a win at all costs to keep their dream of going all the way at the tournament alive. And the ‘La Pulga’ stepped up for his team, netting an absolute belter from outside the box, and setting up another goal as Argentina won 2-0. However, citing a video clip from Argentina’s dressing room celebrations, Canelo accused Messi of insulting whole of ‘Mexico’.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi was accused of disrespecting Mexico after their FIFA World Cup clash. Credits: Twitter

Felipe gives befitting reply to Canelo for his threatening message to Lionel Messi

Canelo Alvarez took to Twitter to call out Lionel Messi for disrespecting the Mexico shirt by kicking it with his legs. In the video, it presumably appeared that Messi indeed kicked a Mexico shirt he had swapped with his right leg. However, a close look at the incident made it clear that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was actually removing his cleats, and was unaware of the Mexico shirt lying on his feet.

But Canelo clearly misread the situation as he went on to threaten Messi on Twitter, writing:

“Did you guys see Messi cleaning the floor with our jersey and flag. He better pray to God that I don’t find him. Just like I respect Argentina, he has to respect Mexico!”

His comments haven’t gone down well with the footballing fraternity, who explained the situation while slamming the boxer. Among the first ones to defend Leo was his close friend and former teammate Sergio Aguero, who wrote in his reply to Canelo:

“Mr. Canelo, don’t look for excuses or problems, surely you don’t know about soccer and what happens in a locker room. The shirts are always on the floor after the games are over due to sweat and then if you see well, he makes the movement to remove the booty and accidentally hits it.”

Lionel Messi
Former Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo defender Lionel Messi as the ‘most respectful guy’. Credits: Twitter
The former Man City striker cleared the air by explaining the dressing room instance where players generally take off their sweaty shirts and put them on the floors. Now, Felipe Melo too came forward in Messi’s defense, as he cited his own experience of playing against the Argentine no.10 to label him the ‘most respectful’ he has ever seen. During his interview with Fox Sports, Melo said on the matter:

“I had a lot of respect for Canelo, because I like boxing. But he’s someone who doesn’t know anything about soccer, he has to shut up. He has to shut up, he doesn’t know anything about soccer. Messi is a guy…. You won’t find a more respectful guy than Messi in any team. I played against him many times, when he was at Barcelona and also in the national team and he always respected you a lot. So, a guy who opens his mouth to talk crap is not worth answering.”

Nevertheless, Lionel Messi was unfazed by this off-pitch matter as he remained concentrated on the Poland clash. Argentina needed another victory to ensure their progression to the last-16, as despite missing an early penalty, Messi did help his side to a 2-0 win, meaning they qualified for the next round as the group winners. Argentina now face Australia in the Round of 16 on December 4.