Messi Criticizes the Police at Maracanã: 'We Saw How they Were Beating People'

The forward celebrates Argentina's victory over Brazil, but laments the confusion in the stands

Fans who went to Maracanã to witness what is likely to be Lionel Messi's last professional match in Brazil did not see a great performance. The episodes of violence before the ball rolled, with fights in the stands, drew more attention than the plays of the star, who received boos and applause at Maracanã.

"We saw how they were beating people. The police, as happened in the Libertadores final, once again repressing people with sticks, some players had family there. At that moment, we didn't really know what was happening and we were paying more attention to that than playing the game, which became secondary," he said.

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi and teammates leave the field due to incidents in the stands before the start of the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualification football match between Brazil and Argentina at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 21, 2023. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP) - AFP

Despite this, the 36-year-old athlete celebrated the 1-0 victory over Brazil, something he described as "very beautiful". The Brazilian national team had never before lost at home in the World Cup qualifiers, which increased the pride of the Argentines, who come from victories in the Copa America and the World Cup. "The truth is that this group continues to achieve historic things."

Celebrated by the Albiceleste fans, Messi also received applause from the green and yellow-clad crowd. These applause were overshadowed by boos, a scene repeated when he was substituted, with muscle pain, at the 32nd minute of the second half. At that moment, some Brazilians applauded him standing up.

Argentina was already winning 1-0 thanks to a header goal by Otamendi, and the patience of the Brazilian fans was running out. At the end of the game, shouts of "olé" erupted as a protest, while the visiting players made passes. Part of the crowd shouted "shameless team".

After the final whistle, most of the Argentines remained in the stands, celebrating. Messi and his teammates headed towards them, right in the sector where the confusion occurred, which delayed the start of the game by 28 minutes, and celebrated the victory that left them at the top of the South American qualifiers. Brazil is only in sixth place.

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