Lionel Messi responded to an offensive gesture from Manuel Ugarte directed at Rodrigo De Paul by urging certain Uruguayan players to “show respect.”
A tense 2026 World Cup qualification match unfolded between the South American rivals at Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera on Thursday evening.
In this fiercely contested game, Argentina experienced a dramatic 2-0 defeat, marking their first loss since claiming the global title in Qatar in 2022.
The match was marred by several heated incidents, including goals from Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez for the visiting team.
One notable altercation occurred in the first half when Ugarte clashed with De Paul.
The Uruguayan midfielder accused De Paul, a World Cup winner, of being Messi’s “bottle feeder,” and an offensive gesture further fueled tensions, resulting in players from both teams becoming entangled in an unsightly brawl.
Messi told reporters afterwards, when asked about the incident, “It’s normal. These kinds of games, qualifiers, against Uruguay, it’s always like that. I prefer not to say what I think. Young people have to learn to respect their elders. This classic was always intense and hard, but always with a lot of respect. They have to learn a little.”
Messi went on to say of the game itself, which saw Argentina fall behind late in the first half before conceding a second in the 87th minute: “We never felt comfortable. They’re a physical team that works well and on the counterattack, they were very dangerous. Today it was our turn to lose. It’s a test. We have to get back up and play a great game in Brazil.”
Argentina is set to face arch-rivals Brazil on Tuesday, maintaining their position at the summit of the CONMEBOL qualification table. They hold a two-point lead over Uruguay, while Brazil, experiencing inconsistency, currently occupies the fifth position.