‘A perfect message’: Fans immortalize Messi’s jibe at beaten Dutch
Published: Dec 16, 2022 01:13 PM
Argentine football fans are printing on T-shirts, mugs and even their bodies a cheeky phrase by captain Lionel Messi in the heated aftermath of their World Cup win over the Netherlands.

In a post-match interview after the tempestuous quarterfinal, which Argentina won on penalties, a fired-up Messi glowered at nearby Dutch striker Wout Weghorst, asking, "What are you looking at, fool? Clear off, fool, clear off."

The flash of anger from the usually taciturn Argentina captain, who also cupped his ears at Dutch coach Louis van Gaal after scoring a penalty, has delighted many of his fans.

"I think it's a great message to say that Latin America is not inferior to Europe," said Nicolas Melana, having Messi's Spanish words - "Que miras, bobo?" - tattooed on one leg and an image of the ­ear-cupping gesture on his other in Buenos Aires.

"It was a perfect message."

Internet memes have also proliferated with the phrase as many Argentines have enjoyed seeing Messi show some of the same fire as his famously flamboyant predecessor, Diego Maradona, whose mouth constantly got him into trouble.

Some commentators, however, have criticized Messi for being disrespectful after a game which saw the opposing players square up to each other several times, including when the Argentines taunted the Dutch following the final penalty kick.

World governing body FIFA has opened disciplinary ­proceedings against both sides.

The 35-year-old Messi is seeking his first World Cup, and Argentina's third, on his fifth and final attempt.

At home, T-shirt sellers, restaurants and bakeries have been making hay with the World Cup gatherings.

"Sales have increased a lot and if Argentina win, more and more. And on the day of the match, just imagine," said Marcelo Alanis, a seller of national team shirts.

"It's crazy. The other day with the rain and everything, people were still buying and walking under the water," he said, referring to a downpour that began after the Netherlands game.

"I'm rooting for Messi that he wins the cup and brings it to South America," said Junior Atainhios, a 42-year-old ­Brazilian tourist in Buenos Aires.