When Lionel Messi played for his national team, Argentina, he often seemed to be burdened. There seemed to be no joy in his gestures. The Argentine has accused him of not having any emotions in the game and unable to identify with him.
Although all his successes at FC Barcelona have made Messi the best player of his generation, this is not the case for the national team. Despite the 34-year-old’s success in the youth team’s national team, the last major trophy won by the men’s national team was the 1993 America’s Cup.
Prior to this, Argentina had won the America’s Cup in 1991 and the World Cup in 1986. The latter was carried by the talented player Diego Maradona, which Messi has been chasing. Shadow. The 1991 and 1993 Copa America titles were won by a group of closely-knit skilled workers and hardworking people, such as Diego Simeone, who established a similar reputation among the managers of the Spanish champion Atletico Madrid.
On Saturday night, at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Messi led Argentina against Brazil in the Copa America final. Many people think this is his last chance to win important trophies. In 2014, when Argentina celebrated its centennial celebration in the World Cup final (tonight the game will be played in the same stadium) and the 2016 Copa America final in New Jersey, USA, he was close.
That night, Argentina lost to Chile in a penalty kick. Messi took the first penalty and slid the ball into the crowd. This is the third time he has lost the final in Argentina in 10 years. After the game, he announced his retirement. However, he returned to the national team at the 2018 Russia World Cup. The team and Messi were eliminated by the final champion France 4-3 in the 16 rounds.
After the withdrawal of the 2018 World Cup, Argentine sports manager Jesica Paola Kessler believes that Argentines evaluate the national team in the same way as they evaluate the country’s political management. “In each case, there is a review every four years, and it is the charismatic leader who bears the responsibility,” she said. wrote.
Although football and governance are usually teamwork, they will blame or praise a player for the result.
“The same is true for governance. Whenever a charismatic leader appears, he or she acts as the savior’s agent, is regarded as the only natural leader, has the right to govern, and is the only person who is qualified to govern and save the team or the country. When When they fail, people yell out,” Kessler said.
Maradona took on this burden in the 1980s and caused personal losses at the end of that decade and the end of the following decade, and Messi has borne this burden since the end of the 2000s. It has territory.
Fans watched the America’s Cup on TV-the game was being played in an empty stadium in Brazil; due to the surge in COVID-19 infection in Argentina and anti-government protests in Colombia, the game was moved there-however, reporters covering the game have noticed, Messi may finally agree with the Argentine’s expectations. This is most obvious in the semi-final against Colombia on Wednesday night, and it must be decided by a penalty after a 1-1 regular time score.
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was their hero, saving three penalty shoot-outs. But then it was Messi who received the most attention because of his actions, who converted his penalty into his own penalty. When Martinez saved a penalty kick from former Colombian Barcelona player Jeremyna, Messi swung his fist from the center circle and shouted at Mina: “How about dancing now?” This, coupled with Messi’s against Argentina Support is already prominent. In Argentina’s 11 team goals, Messi scored 4 and assisted 5 others.
“Hope is on Neymar”
Not surprisingly, the final was called “Messi v Neymar”, his former Barcelona teammate. Like Argentina, Brazil’s global reputation mainly comes from its success as a football country. On paper, its team is stronger than Argentina, and they are the most popular team. With Neymar ahead, they easily passed the group and knockout stages. But many Brazilians can’t get in touch with the team. Most of the teams play in Europe.
São Paulo-based author and researcher Danê Jaheem Sosaba said that this generation of Brazilian national team players lacks many superstars like the 2002 world champion, such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo and other beloved players. “Except for Neymar, most Brazilians can’t name many other first-team players, so they put a lot of hope on him.”
But the alienation from the team is also related to the country’s current political and health crisis.Brazil has one Very unpopular A right-wing government led by President Jair Bolsonaro, who admired the country’s violent military dictatorship in the 1960s. Bolsonaro also downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, his country has 19 million cases and more than 500,000 deaths. In contrast, Argentina’s center-left government is believed to have better controlled the pandemic, but only had 4.6 million cases and 98,000 deaths.
According to Sosaba, many Brazilian fans and commentators couldn’t help but notice that “Bolsonaro’s [continental football association] CONMEBOL’s proposal [to host the tournament] And his government’s delayed response to vaccine manufacturers.”
Many members of the Brazilian national football team, including Neymar, are Bolsonaro supporters, which does not help. Some players are devout, charismatic or evangelical Christians, and this group forms the backbone of Bolsonaro’s base. The one exception is coach Titt.
Last week, a big topic before the final was that a large part of Brazilian fans will support Argentina. Some of them said they did it for Messi; he was worthy of “justice” to win the game in a national team jersey. At the press conference, Brazil team captain Thiago Silva and another senior player Marchinhos expressed surprise at the negative attitude of Brazilian fans towards the team. Neymar also got involved. He attacked Brazilian fans on Instagram, accusing them of being unpatriotic. “I have never attacked and never will
Attack Brazil, if they are playing for what, no matter what sport, a model [beauty] Games, Oscars… I am Brazilian, who is Brazilian, is there any difference? He concluded that although he respected their choice, they should “go to hell.”
This may not help Neymar’s reputation among Brazilian fans. “As a football player, he is considered a failure at critical moments and important games: he is often injured and does not participate in the games on these occasions,” a person is very critical of the government and wants to remain anonymous. “His current image in Brazil is terrible. I think many Brazilians trust Messi’s cautious and consistent style more,” in stark contrast to Neymar’s “rich son” and “cheesy and superficial” personality.
One of Neymar’s sharpest critics this week is the former Brazil international Walter Casagrande, who established his reputation as a center forward in Corinthians in the 1980s. In the local TV sports program, the excited Casagrande compares Neymar to Bolsonaro. “I have never seen Neymar angry with the crisis we experienced in Brazil. The problem with Neymar is that the fans support Argentina, and then he gets angry, then he thinks he is a patriot, and then he feels like a Brazilian. He Think that being Brazilian is like this? We all have problems with our foreheads… People die, vaccine discussions, he is not angry about it. He is not angry with people who died because of the incompetence of the Bolsonaro government. He is against the government He didn’t take action to buy vaccines and was suspected of bribery and embezzlement of public funds and was not angry. This way he would not be angry.”
Finally, Brazilians may not care. Sosaba said that due to the COVID-19 situation, many Brazilians believe that their government should not host the game. They laughed at this as a “Bolsonaro” or “New Crown Pneumonia Championship.” When Tite and one of the team members, Casemiro, first stated that they would consider boycotting the government’s response to COVID-19, the fans who happened to be critics of the Bolsonaro government were bold. Bolsonaro’s supporters then accused Tite and his team of being “communists,” causing the two to make concessions.
“Because of all this [lead up]Many people don’t care about this America’s Cup, which shows.This [local] The TV network that broadcasts the game in most cases failed to obtain and maintain high ratings during the game,” Sosaba said.
Messi’s victory may be more hollow than one.
Sean Jacobs is an associate professor of international affairs at the New School, teaching the intersection of global football and politics.He is also the founder and editor of The New York Times Africa is a country.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.