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Messi ‘fool’ taunt spawns mugs, T-shirts in Argentina

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A taunt by Lionel Messi towards a Dutch player immediately gets immortalized on mugs and T-shirts in Argentina./AFP
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Dec 13, 2022 - 07:31 AM

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — “What are you looking at, fool? Get lost!” Lionel Messi’s World Cup taunt of Dutch player Wout Weghorst has delighted Argentina, where the phrase has made its way onto mugs, shirts and other products.

In a viral video online, soccer superstar Messi is shown being interviewed after Friday’s stormy quarter-final clash with the Netherlands, when his eyes drift off camera.

He then launches his words in the direction of the Dutch substitute — whose two late goals pushed the two teams into penalties — while the reporter struggles to get his attention.

Argentina emerged victorious, but Messi fumed after the fractious match at the referee who gave Weghorst a free kick.

The sport’s world governing body FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against both teams after a World Cup record of 18 yellow cards and multiple mass confrontations during the game.

But in Argentina, a saltier Lionel Messi has drawn comparisons with Diego Maradona, a troubled genius known for fiery moments both on and off the field.

Businesses wasted no time plastering the slogan on a variety of products, with mugs selling for 1,600 pesos ($9), T-shirts for 2,900 pesos, and caps for 3,900 pesos.

“We made the T-shirts right away. The phrase went viral because in another stage, Messi had a calm, low profile. But people wanted him to have a bit of Diego (Maradona) spiciness,” said clothing designer Tony Molfese, 31.

For many in Argentina, the language Messi used is far milder than what can be heard on the streets.

“I thought the phrase was great, so innocent and tender” compared to what you usually hear in Argentina’s sporting world, said 67-year-old Graciela Squietino, who bought T-shirts for her three grandsons.

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