Lionel Messi and Argentina had a pretty good Tuesday. Messi scored a spectacular free kick and recorded two assists to help La Albiceleste beat Colombia 3-0 and snap a four-game winless streak. But afterward, Messi & Co. were not happy to talk to the press.
Instead, Messi, the team's captain, led his teammates in an announcement at the post-game press conference that they are done talking to reporters.
The move was prompted by a reporter in Argentina speculating on Twitter that winger Ezequiel Lavezzi had been left off the team's latest roster because he was caught with marijuana at training camp. Lavezzi, 31, has denied the accusation and vowed to take legal action against the reporter.
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Messi acknowledged that many reporters have not veered into accusations about the players' personal lives, but he said the non-soccer criticism had gotten out of hand.
Here is the statement Messi gave to the press in full, translated to English:
“We're here to let you know that we will no longer be communicating with the press. The accusations that were made towards Lavezzi were huge. We regret that it has to be this way but we have no other choice. We know that many of you don't play that game.
“We received lots of false accusations and were disrespected and we were quiet. But this accusation against Lavezzi was it. People hurl accusations and if we stay quiet, people will believe them. That's why we are stopping this. We know that you will continue to criticize us for how we play, that's fine. However, some got into our personal lives.
“We wanted to say this in front of everyone and not release a statement. We didn't want to hide from anyone. These past two weeks were filled with personal aggression, not football criticism. You can criticize us for winning or losing, but when you get personal we will draw the line.”
It remains to be seen how long this media boycott will last. Argentina sit fifth in the World Cup qualifying table for their region and will resume their qualifying campaign in March.