Lionel Messi and his Spanish La Liga club, FC Barcelona, were fined a combined £706 by the Spanish Soccer Federation over Messi’s celebration after scoring against Osasuna on Sunday, November 29, 2020.
Messi scored in the 73rd minute of the La Liga match which ended 4-0 in favor of FC Barcelona. While celebrating the goal, he took off his Barcelona’s jersey to showcase a jersey of an Argentine club, Newell’s Old Boys, and also raised his two hands into the sky in honor of late Diego Maradona. The celebration earned him an instant yellow card.
Maradona who was a player at Newell’s Old Boys between 1993 and 1994, died on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, from heart failure at his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
When the 1986 World Cup winner returned to the Argentine league from his sojourn in Europe, he went to Newell’s Old Boys, the club where Lionel Messi got his first series of football training. In the last year (1994) of Maradona’s contract with Newell’s Old Boys, Lionel Messi had already started training with the club’s junior team.
Messi who went on to win 6 Ballon d’Or and numerous club and international titles, stayed at the Argentine club until he turned 13-year-old before he left for FC Barcelona in 2001. Though Messi left the club at such a tender age, the 33-year-old Argentine football icon has continued to be a supporter of his childhood club.
So, when one of the idols that passed through the club passed away on November 25, Lionel Messi decided to go all the way to honor him not just as a player that he adores but as his former national team coach (between 2008 and 2010).
But the Spanish Football Federation didn’t want to accept that since Messi’s celebration was to honor one of the greatest footballers of all time, he and FC Barcelona should not be punished.
The Spanish FA said in a statement that Messi had to be fined £543 and FC Barcelona had to be fined £162 because his celebration went against the rules book of the FA. The Spanish Soccer Federation’s competition committee said Messi’s celebration breached article 93 of the disciplinary code which states that players should be punished for removing their shirts when celebrating, irrespective of the motive.
Hence, FC Barcelona’s argument that Lionel Messi did the celebration to honor a football icon could not stand even though the FA’s competition committee accepted that Messi’s celebration was a tribute.
Besides Messi’s celebration on the pitch, the football icon who is one of the few players football fans always compare to the late Maradona, took to his Instagram page hours after it was confirmed that Maradona was dead, to celebrate the late icon.
In the caption of his Instagram post, Lionel Messi described Maradona as “eternal”, noting that Maradona’s legacy will live forever.