The Argentina football team has been heavily criticized for their over-the-top antics during their win against the Netherlands, with accusations of goaded and time-wasting abound.
Video footage shows some of their players goading Dutch opponents, taunting them, and making rude gestures.
However, the Argentine head coach has come out in defense of his team, insisting that they were within their rights to behave in such a manner given the importance of the match.
In the aftermath of Argentina’s 4-3 penalty shootout win over the Netherlands, head coach Lionel Scaloni came to the defense of his players, who appeared to goad their opponents. Messi and goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez aimed Dutch manager Louis van Gaal in post-match interviews.
At times during yesterday’s heated match, Argentina’s players were aggressors. Eight Argentines and six Dutchmen were cautioned by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, while Denzel Dumfries was expelled from the game for the Dutch. As a result of the actions of players and officials, FIFA has decided to take disciplinary action against both federations.
“The previous game was played the way we had to play it from both teams, the Netherlands and Argentina, and that’s football,” Scaloni said. “In football, sometimes you have to defend, attack and some games, you know, things can happen like the previous game.
“There can be arguments, more challenging times but that’s all. That’s why there is a referee to make justice. And we need to just put an end to this idea of, you know, thinking Argentina is just that and we usually have that sort of behaviour.
“We lost to Saudi Arabia, we didn’t say anything. We won the Copa America in Brazil and we experienced the most sporting behaviour with Messi, [Leonardo] Paredes and Neymar. They were all sitting together in that tunnel at that Maracana Stadium, so I’m really not convinced of this idea of unsporting behaviour.
“We need to show our pride and we just played the game the way we had to play it. And then there is referee in charge of making decisions. Things end in the moment the referee blows the final whistle. So, we respect all the teams, the Netherlands, Croatia now all the opponents we face. That’s one of our main characteristics and features of our personality since the first game.
“We need to put an end to this idea of us not being good winners or losers – that’s very far from who we actually are as a team, as a squad and as the way we represent this nation.” (Media, 2022)
Lionel Messi will have the chance to match Lothar Matthäus’ record of 25 FIFA World Cup appearances when Argentina take on Nigeria in their final group game. This is a significant milestone for Messi, who has been one of the best players at this tournament and leads his country into what could be a decisive clash.