Messi’s ‘fool’ mockery generates cups and shirts in Argentina

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A mockery of Lionel Messi towards a Dutch player is immediately immortalized on cups and shirts in Argentina – Copyright AFP / File Jonathan NACKSTRAND

“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 found its way onto mugs, T-shirts and other merchandise.

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

He then shoots his words in the direction of the Dutch substitute, whose two late goals sent both teams to penalties, as the reporter struggles for his attention.

Argentina emerged victorious, but Messi was furious after the contentious game with the referee giving Weghorst a free kick.

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

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

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

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

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

“The phrase seemed great to me, so innocent and tender” compared to what is usually heard in the Argentine sports world, said Graciela Squietino, 67, who bought t-shirts for her three grandchildren.

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