Lionel Messi called ‘possessed dwarf’ with ‘face of the devil’ in spat with Monterrey

Lionel Messi watches on from the stands - Lionel Messi called 'possessed dwarf' with 'face of the devil' in spat with Mexican club Monterrey
Lionel Messi watches on from the stands at Chase Stadium during the match with Monterrey - Getty Images/Megan Briggs

Lionel Messi has been called a lot of things during his remarkable career but a “possessed dwarf” with “the face of the devil” was not one of them until he played for Inter Miami.

That was the insult hurled after a bust-up inside the tunnel after Miami had lost to Mexico side Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions Cup last week.

Monterrey’s assistant coach, Nicolás Sánchez, has since apologised for his role in the argument, after audio leaked of him making the disparaging remarks.

Monterrey, whose head coach Fernando Ortiz had also publicly questioned whether the Major League Soccer side received preferential treatment from match officials because of Messi’s superstar status, beat Miami 2-1 in the first-leg of the tie.

“Everything that surrounds Messi can lead to sporting and non-sporting decisions,” Ortiz said. “I am concerned about the environment, football is business, business does not go the way of Monterrey.”

But things boiled over after the match with USA Today reporting there had been an angry row involving Messi, Jordi Alba, Luis Suárez and Miami coach Tata Martino in a mixed zone outside the visitors’ dressing room.

The argument allegedly began when Miami’s players, who had been shown six yellow cards and a red during the bad-tempered game, had approached match officials to complain, prompting players and staff from Monterrey to also get involved.

Audio of Sánchez discussing the confrontation leaked through Fox Sports MX. “The dwarf was possessed, he had the face of the devil,” Sánchez said.

“He put his fist next to my face and says: ‘Who do you think you are?’ But because I didn’t look at him, I was looking away, I never answered back, it made things worse.

“And Tata Martino, what a poor dummy, I had him in front of me telling me: ‘Fool, you going to cry? Fool you going to cry?’ What a dummy! All those videos, they probably erased them all because it leaves them looking bad. What they did was really serious. They want to dirty the pitch.”

Sánchez has since apologised to Martino in a video posted on social media. “Since I do not know the Inter coach, Gerardo Martino, and I referred to him in a disrespectful manner, I apologise,” Sánchez said. “I am as Argentine as all of them and I will always defend my club. I’m here to show my face and take charge.”

Sánchez, though, made no reference to his comment about Messi, who has only recently returned to action after missing two months of the MLS season with a hamstring injury, in the video.

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